Kochi: Brazilian midfielder Bruno Pelissari’s individual brilliance saw Chennayin FC edge past Kerala Blasters 1-0 to all but ensure a place in the semi-final of the Indian Super League here yesterday.
Bruno Pelissari of Chennaiyin FC celebrates after scoring against Kerala Blasters FC in Kochi yesterday. pic/ISL/SPORTZPICS
Pelissari’s 87th minute strike ensured Marco Materazzi’s men maintain their pole position in the eight-team league table with 22 points from 12 games — six points clear of second placed Atletico de Kolkata. Blasters still hold onto their fourth place in the table with 15 points from 12 games. There weren’t too many eye-catching moments besides super-sub Pelissari’s strike just 13 minutes after being introduced into the thick of things.
It was a corner that Blasters had earned at the other end and one saw Pelissari receive a clearance inside his own half. It was the start of a 50m sprint down the middle as rival defenders chased shadows.
Pellisari had support on the right but decided to wait as he got the ball to his left-foot and swerved a left-footed inswinger into the net as veteran goalkeeper even as Sandeep Nandy had a puzzled look on his face. The 61,000 partisan crowd went into pin-drop silence as they simply couldn’t believe what just hit them.
Chennaiyin, who are playing without their talismanic Brazilian Elano Blumer, showed that they have a solid bench strength as they snatched full points in a difficult away game.
It couldn’t have been more delightful for the team’s co-owner Abhishek Bachchan, who was seen in the VIP box along with his wife Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
Blasters off target
For Blasters, their frontman Iain Hume had the best scoring opportunity immediately after the change of ends, when Stephen Pearson and CS Sabeeth combined well to execute a defence splitting through. However, with Chennaiyin’s French goalie Gennaro Bracigliano coming out of his charge, Hume’s placement in haste was just off target.
Blasters also received a major setback when their skipper-cum-manager David James pulled a hamstring and had to be replaced by Nandy in as early as 20th minute of the match.
Shikhar Dhawan birthday: Top 10 scores by an Indian on Test debut
Spotted: Shilpa Shetty, Raj Kundra at a Mumbai multiplex
Spotted: Virat Kohli, Anushka Sharma and other celebs at Mumbai airport
Photos: Salman Khan's 'special friend' Iulia Vantur at a song launch
Photos: Hrithik Roshan, Anushka Sharma, other celebs dazzle at event