Delhi Dynamos equalised in the 90th minute to salvage a point against Chennaiyin FC in their Indian Super League (ISL) match at the JLN Stadium in Chennai on Sunday. Jeje Lalpekhlua's brace overcame David Ngaihte's opener but Guyon Fernandez scored a late equaliser to deny a win for the Super Machans.
Chennaiyin FC opted to line up with just the four foreigners, with Dhanachandra Singh brought in for the suspended Henrique Sereno in defence. Bikramjit Singh made way for Germanpreet Singh in midfield while Rene Mihelic was preferred over Raphael Augusto as the playmaker.
Delhi Dynamos also named only four foreigners in the starting lineup with new signing Xabi Irureta starting in goal while David Ngaihte led the lines with Lallianzuala Chhangte playing off him. Paulinho Diaz and Vinit Rai were deployed in midfield while Edu Moya dropped to the central defence.
The home team started the game on the ascendancy and forced two quick corners within the first few minutes. The first chance of the match also went Chennaiyin's way when they received a free kick on the edge of the box down the right wing. But Mihelic's delicious cross was headed just over by Mailson Alves.
The two teams took time to settle down as the game turned scrappy. But it was Delhi who scored the opening goal in the 24th minute after capitalising on a piece of slack defending by the home team. After Nelson lost the ball in Chennaiyin's attacking third, Lumu picked out Chhangte with an accurate long ball down the left flank. The youngster fed Nandhakumar who was left in acres of space down the left.
His delivery into the box was inch-perfect for an unmarked David Ngaihte to head in.
A shell-shocked Chennaiyin took some time to get going again and should have equalised in the 36th minute when Nelson robbed Kotal near the half-way line before steaming forward all the way to the Delhi box and cutting back a pass for Francisco who saw his shot deflected wide by a sliding Lumu.
After the resulting corner was cleared away, Germanpreet recovered possession and floated a ball for Mihelic inside the box but the Slovenian's shot fizzed agonisingly wide.
Five minutes later, Chennaiyin did get their equaliser through a set-piece. Mihelic's pinpoint delivery was glanced into the net by Jeje Lalpekhlua with none of the Delhi defenders getting tight to him.
However, Delhi had a glorious chance to regain the lead just before half-time when Chennaiyin lost the ball in their own half. Chhangte did well to pounce and feed Ngaihte who picked out Romeo's run into the box. But the Goan winger's shot was sensationally blocked by Karanjit who did well to close out the angle.
Both sides made no changes at the start of the second half but the intent was evident from Chennaiyin FC who put the Delhi defence on the backfoot right from the word go.
And it paid dividends six minutes into the half when Nelson held the ball up well down the left flank before finding Germanpreet in space outside the Delhi penalty area. The midfielder played the ball to Jeje inside the area who turned Pratik Chowdhury with ease before slamming a shot home with consummate ease to make the scoreline 2-1 in his team's favour.
Though Delhi started to see more of the ball from then on, it was Chennaiyin who looked threatening when they got on the ball. After the hour mark, Mihelic did well down the right flank to spot Calderon's overlap into the box. The Spaniard's cutback was inches away from being headed in by Gregory Nelson.
Delhi coach Miguel Portugal threw on striker Kalu Uche for goalscorer David Ngaihte soon. Chennaiyin threw on Jude Nworuh for Francisco Fernandes in response.
Delhi made a concerted effort to get crosses into the box to utilise Uche's strength, but Mailson Alves and Dhanachandra Singh held fort well.
The home team looked to break forward often while remaining compact at the back and Jude Nworuh's pace down the right wing was causing Delhi all sorts of trouble. One such foray saw Nworuh hare down the right before picking out Nelson outside the box. The Dutchman struck a volley at goal but it went just over.
Just as it looked like Chennaiyin would coast to victory, Germanpreet gave away a cheap foul on the edge of his own box in the 90th minute, allowing Delhi to get a ball in. It was cleared out but it was hooked back in for Uche to lay it off for Guyon Fernandez who tapped home from close range, to leave the home team shocked.
There was no time for a winner for either side as Delhi ended their six-game losing streak while Chennaiyin went top of the league.