Chennaiyin book final berth

Kolkata win but better aggregate score spur Materazzi's side into summit tie

Chennaiyin book final berth

Though Atletico de Kolkata beat Chennaiyin FC 2-1 in the second leg of their Indian Super League semifinal clash in front of 68,340 spectators, it was not enough as the Marco Materazzi-coached side booked their place in the Sunday’s final with a 4-2 aggregate win at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Wednesday.

Goals from Dejan Lekic (22nd minute)  and Iain Hume ( 87th minute) gave Kolkata a glimmer of hope but the former Kolkata player, Fikru Teferra, ensured that there were no hiccups as his goal in the stoppage time ended Kolkat’s hopes of making the final for the second time as the final aggregate score read in the southern-outfit’s favour.

Chennaiyin will now take on FC Goa in the final in Goa on December 20.

Kolkata threw caution to the wind from the get-go as the reigning champions looked to claw their way back into the game by overturning a three-goal deficit from the first leg.
Kolkata looked lively from the outset and Lekic almost scored in the fourth minute when he struck a powerful shot from distance that just flew over Chennaiyin’s crossbar.

Chennai could have killed the tie in the 11th minute when Stiven Mendoza rifled in a left-footed shot from long range but Amrinder Singh got his finger tips to the ball and kept Kolkata’s slim chances of making the final alive.

The match burst into life in the 22nd minute after miscommunication at the back for Chennai between Bernard Mendy and Apoula Edel.

Lekic capitalised on the defensive lapse as he toe-poked Mendy’s back-header beyond an out-rushing Edel to make it 1-0 for Kolkata.

Kolkata maintained their all-out attacking approach to the game for the remainder of the half and nearly made it 2-0 through Sameehg Doutie four minutes before the break but for an outstretched right-hand from goalkeeper Edel which kept the score at 1-0 in Kolkata’s favour going in at half-time interval.

The second half began at a high tempo with Kolkata desperate to level things up on aggregate. Nallapan Mohanraj whipped in a dangerous ball into the box from the left in the 48th minute which Rino Anto volleyed wide of goal, much to the dismay of the home faithful.

Lekic should have made it 2-0 in the 59th minute when he latched onto a long ball forward and shot at goal. Chennai’s defence though thwarted the threat with bodies in the box and put Lekic’s attempt behind for a corner. Tiri was next to have a go at goal with a header from a corner that was kept out once again by the Chennaiyin shot stopper Edel.

The hosts kept probing Chennai’s goal relentlessly as the half went on and had another opportunity fall Doutie’s way in the 71st minute. The South-African, however, failed to keep his shot on target as another big chance went begging for the home side.

Jaime Gavilan was next in a large que of Kolkata players trying to get his side’s second goal of the night.

The Spaniard attempted a left-footed curler into the top corner 10 minutes before normal time but failed to test Edel in goal as the home side’s frustration grew.

The complexion of the game completely changed three minutes before full-time when Iain Hume played a brilliant one-two with Lekic before sending a left-footed volley into the top corner to make it 2-0 for Kolkata and set up a grandstand finish.

Hume came tantalisingly close to getting another goal three minutes later when he headed the ball onto Chennai’s bar.

Kolkata’s last-gasp rally for a third goal was short-lived neverthe less as the former Kolkata man man Fikru dealt them a hammer blow in added time.

Keeper Amrinder Singh and Mohanraj got caught up in a misunderstanding to gift Fikru the ball and the striker ran it into an empty net to dash Kolkata’s hopes of making the final by making it 2-1 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate in favour of Chennaiyin.

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