Hyderabad FC survived a brief second half scare to register a comprehensive victory over Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) on Monday. The Nizams were on their game right from the get-go as goals from Joel Chianese, Joao Victor and a brace from Halicharan Narzary were enough to seal the win. Anirudh Thapa scored the consolation goal for Chennaiyin.
Manuel Marquez made one change to the side that turned out against FC Goa as Mohammad Yasir came in for Hitesh Sharma. However, it was young Akash Mishra who set the tone for the match in the first few minutes with a brilliant run down the left but no one in yellow could make much of his driven cross. He was at it again when he made a well-timed run alongside Chianese during a swift counter attack but the Australian chose not to pass it to him when that was the better option.
The former Perth Glory attacker came close once more when Chennaiyin goalkeeper Vishal Kaith’s fumble gifted him the ball. Fortunately for the Marina Machans, Vishal was swift to react to his attempted shot, deflecting it outside the goal. Hyderabad had most of the remaining chances in the first half as Odei Onaindia, Chianese and Aridane Santana all came close. Chennaiyin responded with an opportunity of their own as Lallianzuala Chhangte broke through on goal, went past a defender and shot at goal. However, a strong leg from Laxmikant Kattimani kept him out.
The first goal came in the beginning of the second period through miscommunication between the two best Chennaiyin players from the first half, Eli Sabia and Vishal Kaith. Sabia’s attempted clearance from a long ball hit Chianese and deflected towards an open goal with Kaith out of his goal in an attempt to make the same clearance. The Australian winger went ahead and tapped in probably the easiest goal of his career (1-0). Soon after, Halicharan doubled the lead. A great passing move down the right saw the ball fall for Aridane whose shot was somehow kept out by Kaith. Narzary was close by and he blasted home the rebound (2-0).
It was an action-packed second half as both sides tried to wrestle the initiative. While Chennaiyin made a couple of changes in search of goals, Hyderabad still looked to press high up and if possible score one more. Csaba Laszlo’s men had a decent spell as Jakub Sylvestr and Chhangte had a couple of half chances. However, it was Anirudh Thapa who pulled one back with just more than twenty minutes left on the clock. Kattimani tried to clear a cross from Reagan Singh with his feet when he could have easily grabbed the ball with his hands. His fluffed attempt gifted the ball to Anirudh Thapa who had the second tap-in of the night (2-1).
Just as it seemed that Chennaiyin would go ahead and get another one, Hyderabad struck back. Joao Victor played a neat reverse ball for Santana whose shot was once again saved by the acrobatic Vishal. But when the ball returned to Victor, he placed his shot perfectly in the top left corner as he reinstated their two-goal lead (3-1). There was more to come though, as Halicharan grabbed his second minutes later from a counter-attack initiated by substitute Fran Sandaza. The 26-year-old from Assam calmly slotted the ball past Vishal after covering half the length of the pitch (4-1), even as Sandaza pulled up short with another injury having come on minutes earlier.
That injury and the concession of a cheap goal aside, it was the perfect performance from a spirited Hyderabad side as that looked dangerous all match. Coming off the back of three successive losses, this was just the perfect response that head coach Manuel Marquez would have wanted from his side. They rise up to 6th with this result and are just one point off the top 4. Chennaiyin on the other hand slumped to their third defeat of the season and drop down to 8th. They have a meagre 10 points from 9 games and one would feel that something has to give if they are to arrest this slide.