Pune, Dec 12 (IANS) Chennaiyin FC came up with a dominating performance to outclass defending champions Atletico de Kolkata 3-0 in the first leg of the second semi-final of the Indian Super League (ISL) football tourney at the Balewadi Stadium here on Saturday.
Goals each from Bruno Pelissari (38th minute), Jeje Lalpekhlua (57th) and John Mendosa (68th) helped their side seal the victory that should give them a big advantage in the second leg in Kolkata on December 16.
Marco Materazzia’s side, despite seeing the absence of marquee midfielder Elano Blumer and Mehraj-ud-din Wadoo because of suspension, held on to their winning momentum to stun ATK.
Atletico made three changes in their starting XI for the crucial match. Amrinder Singh, Augustin Fernandes and Ofentse Nato returned in place of Juan Calatayud, Nallappan Mohanaraj and Mohammed Rafique.
Chennaiyin made three changes, Bernard Mendy, Zakeer Mundampara and Pelissari made a start in place of Alessandro Potenza, Elano and Wadoo.
The away side broke the deadlock in the 38th minute via a free kick. Pelissari made it 1-0 with a bullet of a free kick from way out. The Brazilian executed his knuckle-ball kick to perfection as the ball went past goalkeeper Amrinder Singh’s outstretched arms into the bottom left in the blink of an eye.
Chennaiyin were confident when they took the field in the second session and had another reason to celebrate in the 57th minute.
Amrinder was guilty of venturing out and was caught on the wrong foot by Mendoza, who got the better of him and set it up for Jeje inside the box. The India international kept his cool to calmly slot the ball inside the goal despite three defenders crowding the goal.
Chennaiyin virtually put the match beyond Kolkata’s reach in the 68th minute. A long clearance from Mailson saw the ball land at the feet of Mendoza. The Colombian striker relayed the ball to Jeje who smartly scooped the ball for Mendoza and the Golden Boot leader made no mistake after beating the off-side trap.
Kolkata were subdued for the most part and did not have too many chances to get something out of this game. Their leading scorer Iain Hume was kept under check and despite his best efforts he could not pull a goal back.
Coach Antonio Lopez Habas even introduced Dejan Lekic in the first session itself but save for a shot early in the second session that missed the target by a whisker, the Serbian striker hardly created a flutter.