Kolkata, Feb 9 (PTI) Former champions Chennai City FC dished out a clinical attacking brand of football to beat NEROCA FC 2-1 in an I-League match here on Tuesday.
Strikes from Vineeth Kumar (6th) and Demir Avdic (68th) were enough to hand Chennai City the win despite Subash Singh reducing the deficit in the 79th minute.
With this win, Chennai City FC find themselves in the top half of the table while NEROCA are still on 10th place.
Chennai City wasted no time in showing their attacking intent but a fourth minute effort by Vladimir Molerovic from a distance went inches over the bar. However, the Chennai-based club had to wait just two minutes after Molerovic's attempt to take the lead.
Vineeth Kumar was found by an accurate cross from Mohamed Iqbal from the left flank on the far post. Vineeth's diving header from a tight angle beat the opposition custodian as Chennai took a 1-0 lead.
The goal, which came out of nowhere, jolted NEROCA and shortly after, attempts by Demir Avdic of Chennai City were kept out by Bishrojit Singh, who was tested on more than one occasion.
However, NEROCA regrouped and started pressing higher up the pitch. In the 15th minute, Subash Singh tried to dribble his way past the Chennai defence, but failed to release a powerful shot.
NEROCA survived a scare on the 18th minute when defender Manjit Sharma's loose pass for goalkeeper Bishrojit Singh was almost latched upon by a lurking Demir Avdic. If Avdic had stolen possession, it would have been a simple goal for Chennai City.
More chances came Chennai City's way to double their advantage. In the 28th minute, Rajesh's cross found Vineeth inside the box. This time, Vineeth tried to half-volley the cross, but his effort went wide.
With Chennai City FC having the lion's share of possession and creating chances at will, NEROCA relied on counter-attacks to test the opposition. Subash Singh wasted his shot in the 33rd minute and substitute Khaiminthang Lhungdim, shortly after, headed a Gobin Singh cross wide of the goal.
NEROCA began to attack in droves in the second half but the Gift Raikhan-coached side lacked creativity upfront, with Subash Singh mostly isolated and unable to link play with Judah Garcia.
They were dealt a blow in the 61st minute when Shoib Akhtar was sent off for a rash tackle on Jockson Dhas.
Playing with 10 men, NEROCA conceded another goal in the 68th minute when Demir Avdic found the net through a header from close range.
The Manipur-based club resorted to long balls and smashed them forward in an attempt to find a goal. The breakthrough came in the 79th minute for NEROCA.
Garcia's attempt from close range was heroically saved by the opposition goalkeeper, but the ball fell to Subash Singh, who smashed it home from a hand-shaking distance.
Despite a late surge by their opponents, Chennai City's defence held on to the lead to grab full three points. PTI PDS PDS AH AH