RoundGlass Punjab FC extended their winning run as they beat Chennai City FC 2-0 at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium in Kalyani, West Bengal on Saturday, February 13, 2021. With the result, the Punjab side have now displaced Churchill Brothers on the summit of the Hero I-League points table with 14 points in eight games — one point ahead of the Red Machines, who have played one game less.
A solid performance in goal by Hero of the Match Kiran Kumar Limbu, sandwiched between goals by Papa Diawara and Robert Nongrum ensured Curtis Fleming’s men picked up all three points in their Round 8 game.
RoundGlass Punjab made just a single change from their 2-1 victory over the Indian Arrows as Mohammed Irshad started ahead of Suranjit Singh. Chennai City FC also made a single change from their 2-1 win over NEROCA FC as head coach Satyasagara picked Lijo Francis over Umasankar in the game.
The game opened with fast end-to-end football, but both sides were unable to get their efforts on target. The earliest opening came in the 8th minute for Chennai City as Iqbal saw Punjab custodian Kiran Kumar off his line. However, his shot was blocked by the Punjab defence. The game died down in the next couple of minutes due to an early injury to Iqbal, forcing Satyasagara to change him with Elvedin Skrijelj.
RoundGlass Punjab created the first big opening of the game in the 18th minute. Chencho flicked a long ball over his marker and forced a brilliant save from Chennai City’s Kabir Toufik. Both teams settled down and kept fighting hard in the middle of the park for possession, as Punjab were more penetrative and kept knocking Chennai City’s goal.
In the 33rd minute, Chencho Glysten latched on to Aphaoba’s cross from the right wing. But, the Bhutanese striker could not power his tame header past Kabir Toufik. Demir Avdic had an opening in the 36th minute, but the Chennai City striker skied his attempt from Sriram’s cut back. Three minutes later, Papa Babacar Diawara met Joseba Beitia’s cross, but the striker’s header failed to trouble the Chennai goalie.
RoundGlass kept pushing and reaped rewards in the 43rd minute. Souvik Das’ cross found Papa Babacar Diawara just outside the six-yard box. The Senegalese held off a challenge from Tarif Akhand and volleyed his effort past a stranded Kabir Toufik.
Chennai City sought an immediate reply through a free-kick. Substitute Elvedin Skrijelj’s cross from distance was met by Demir Avdic, who yet again failed to hit the target. As a result, RoundGlass Punjab went into half-time with a 1-0 lead.
Punjab went in search for the second goal early in the second half and were close to finding it a minute after the restart. Kabir Toufik failed to hold on to RV Horipam’s flicked header from a long throw, causing chaos in the box. Luckily for him, his defence was there to bail him out. Punjab came within inches of doubling their lead in the 54th minute with Sumeet Passi. However, the substitute was unable to turn in Aphaoba Singh’s cross from a tight angle.
On the other end, Chennai created a rare opportunity to equalise in the 59th minute. Demir Avdic won the ball off a defender, before breaking in the box and sending a bullet strike towards goal. However, Kiran Kumar produced a magnificent save, ensuring his side’s lead was safe.
The game suddenly turned end-to-end. A minute later, Chencho broke from the following corner and sent in a cross for Papa Diawara, who was inches away from slotting the second goal. In the 65th minute, Elvedin pounced on a weak clearance, but his shot from outside the area went straight into the hands of the keeper.
With the clock ticking, Chennai created another opening in the 80th minute, with Demir Avdic, curling his effort towards the top corner. However, the Nepalese custodian pulled off another magnificent save to deny the Serbian.
With their lead intact, Punjab FC kept attacking and came close again in the 84th minute. Papa Diawara latched on to Beitia’s corner, but his header whiskered over the goal. It did not matter much though, as finally, Curtis Fleming’s team scored four minutes later.
Aphaoba Singh broke on the counter, latching on to a long pass from Beitia, before sending in a dipping shot. Toufik saved the shot but sent the rebound into the path of substitute Rupert Nongrum, who made sure he remained onside and duly put the ball into an empty net.
Chencho, who was at the heart of every RoundGlass Punjab attack, had a chance to add another in the last seconds of extra time. However, Kabir Toufik got his left hand down fast to save the Bhutanese international’s low, powerful strike.
It was the last action in the game, as Curtis Fleming’s side won 2-0 in the end and displaced Churchill at the top of the Hero I-League standings.