Bruno Pelissari Chennaiyin
Chennaiyin players celebrate the winner scored by Bruno PelissariISL Official Website

Chennaiyin FC as good as sealed a place in the semifinals of the Indian Super League with a last-gasp 1-0 win over Kerala Blasters in Kochi, and player-manager Marco Materrazzi could not be more happy with his boys.

The game looked to be heading for a draw, when Bruno Pelissari took charge, running down from his own half all the way to the other end, before providing a delightful finish to stun the 60,000 fans at the stadium.

"The team was very, very good," said Materazzi after the 1-0 win on Sunday. "Today, when I saw them and spoke with them before the game, I told them that we are a big team and a big team never makes the mistake of losing two games in a row.

"So, we had to win. They played really well and I am happy about the performance today.

"In the first half we played high pressure for 20 minutes and we took care of them breaking forward on the counter attack. We had good concentration.

"Maybe in the second half, we tired a bit. It gets hard to run. But we wanted the three points, we played well, and we had a good goal. So I think we deserve the three points."

The win leaves Chennaiyin firmly on top of the table with 22 points from 12 matches, five more than Atletico de Kolkata. The Kerala Blasters remain in the final semifinal place with 15 points, but having played a game more, they will walk down the table if one of Delhi Dynamos, NorthEast United FC or FC Pune City win their next match.

"We were very slow out of the blocks at the start of the game," said Kerala Blasters assistant manger Trevor Morgan. "We came into halftime at nil-nil, we focused and regrouped and I thought that we were a lot better in the second half.

"Sometimes, when the game is that tight, all it requires is a bit of quality to be up, and unfortunately, they had it and we didn't."

The Blasters now need to pick up three points their final two ISL matches – both of them at home – to keep their semifinal hopes alive, and Morgan said his team will treat those two vital encounters as "Cup finals."

"The result doesn't change anything because we were always aware that we needed to win as many home games as we could," added Morgan.

"It would have been good to have got three points today, but we now have to play the next two games like two cup finals. We have to win the next two games."