Chennaiyin FC made it two wins out of two in the Indian Super League, courtesy a goal of the season contender from Bernard Mendy as the Kerala Blasters were made to pay, yet again, for missed chances.
The one thing that the Blasters don't seem to be able to do in the ISL is put the ball in the back of the net with consistency. They had twice more shots than Chennaiyin FC, the home team, over the 90 minutes, but it was the team in blue that gave the men in yellow the blues with a 2-1 victory.
Elano opened the scoring for Chennaiyin FC in the first half from the penalty spot, before Iain Hume scored the first ever goal for the Kerala Blasters in the ISL. Then came the moment of the match, just beyond the hour, as Mendy, the former France international, scored the most acrobatic of goals you will probably see in this ISL, a goal well worthy of being the winner.
The match started at a pretty good pace, with both teams looking for that early goal, and Chennaiyin nearly managed to do just that within seconds of kickoff as Abhishek Das took advantage of a slip from Sandesh Jhingan on the wet turf in at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Chennai to whip in a cross from the right, which was narrowly headed wide by Balwant Singh.
That would have been a dream start for the home side, but they would get their goal in the 14th minute from the penalty spot, with Elano yet again getting his name on the scoresheet.
Gurwinder Singh, who had gone into the referee's book early on, tackled Abhishek inside the penalty area, a tackle, even if a he got a little bit of the ball, which was completely unnecessary, opening the door for Chennaiyin to take the lead.
Elano, who scored in the first game with a wonderful freekick, stepped up and planted the ball into the bottom corner, with David James unable to get his hands to the ball despite guessing the right way.
This was familiar territory for Kerala Blasters, who found themselves a goal down against NorthEast United in their first game of the ISL as well, and the Sachin Tendulkar-owned team went about trying to find the equaliser with a bit of patience.
They were desperately unlucky to make it 1-1 in the 25th minute, as Jhingan, who had a good game going forward from left-back, played in a low cross into the box, which found its way to CS Sabeeth via a wonderful dummy from Penn Orji.
Sabeeth swivelled and took his shot, which beat Chennaiyin FC goalkeeper Gennaro Bracigliano, but not the post as the ball rebounded off the woodwork.
Chennaiyin FC, with the Kerala Blasters pouring forward in search of the equaliser, looked dangerous on the counter-attack with the home team using the pace and trickery of Mendoza Valencia, who was a constant threat at the top end.
Mendoza nearly won a penalty for Chennaiyin, springing clear of the Kerala Blasters defence, before falling rather easily under the challenge of James, with the referee deciding to book the Chennaiyin striker for diving. The Colombian also forced a save off James a little later on, with a swerving effort from the edge of the box, as Chennaiyin looked to double their lead before halftime.
It could have easily been 1-1, however, just before the break as Sabeeth made a hash of some excellent work from Jhingan, who left the experienced Mikael Silvestre for dead before picking out a low cross for the Kerala striker.
The Kerala Blasters, with owner Tendulkar watching from the stands alongside Tamil film icon Rajinikanth, who got the biggest cheer of the night, would not be denied their equaliser in the second 45, though, as former Canada international Hume struck from close range in the 50th minute after an initial header from Nirmal Chettri off a corner.
Chennaiyin would grab their lead back on 63 minutes on one of their few forays in the second half up the field. Elano's freekick saw the ball eventually pop up Mendy's way, with the Frenchman producing a stunning bicycle kick finish to send the crowd wild.
Kerala pressed and pressed, much like they did against NorthEast United, with Trevor Morgan putting on four strikers – Hume, Sabeeth, Michael Chopra and Andrew Barisic -- on the field, but the second goal would not come.