Chennaiyin FC clinches thriller

Chennai: Nerijus Valskis and Andre Schembri turned out to be the stars for Chennaiyin FC as they helped break the goalless streak of their team and ensured that they secure their first victory of this season’s Indian Super League against Hyderabad FC (2-1) in front of the delirious home crowd here, Monday.

In what was an action-packed contest, both the teams had their chances but failed to score within the full-time. When it looked like the match would end in a goalless draw, it sprung to life in the dying moments.

In the 91st minute, Maltese forward Andre Schembri, who came in as a substitute, latched on to a cross from Edwin Vanspaul and turned around and slotted it past a diving Kamaljit to finally end Chennaiyin’s goal-drought. The goal sent the home team players, support staff and the fans berserk. However the joy was short-lived as within minutes, Hyderabad gained a corner-kick and Kilgallon headed one into the goal to level the scores. With less than a minute remaining, Chennaiyin needed a miracle and Valskis just gave that as he scored one past the goalkeeperĀ and wheeled away in celebration as he gave his team the first taste of victory.

Speaking after the victory a delighted John Gregory said that he always backed Andre Schembri and Nerijus Valskis to score goals. “Andre and Nerijus Valskis score goals regularly on the training ground as they are really good finishers. I was shocked that they did not score in the four matches. Andre created that goal himself. Valskis really did well to set himself up for the goal. That was the reason we bought them both and I hope that this is the start of more goals to come,” said the English coach.

Gregory also said that it was important for the team to focus on the next game against Odisha FC which will be played here within three days. “We are aiming for a top-four finish and the next game will be very important for us. ATK’s draw against Odisha FC is a very good result as it keeps everyone within the range. If we win some more games then the position changes.”

With the win, Chennaiyin FC moved to the ninth spot while Hyderabad FC sits at the bottom of the table. Chennaiyin next faces Odisha FC at home, 28 October, Thursday.

NT Bureau