FULL-TIME: Chennaiyin FC 0-0 Jamshedpur FC
The Red Miners had to win tonight’s game and their next game against Bengaluru FC to stand a chance at qualifying for the play-offs. However, they faltered at the first hurdle and Northeast United have qualified in their stead. The Jamshedpur faithful would’ve had flashbacks from last season where Jamshedpur needed a win against FC Goa to qualify, but ended up going down 0-3.
Although Chennayin FC had nothing to play for and Jamshedpur had it all to do, it was the home team which started the game on the front foot. With Christopher Herd holding fort in midfield, Anirudh Thapa sparkled in an advanced role and helped Chennai move forward.
The first notable chance fell to Jamshedpur in the 31st minute. The attacking midfielder Cidoncha crossed the ball into the box. Mario Arques tried to put it in the net with a smart header, but Karanjit Singh made a spectacular save to deny the Spanish central midfielder.
The teams went into the half-time break with the scores level.
Early on in the second half, the Red Miners had an early penalty shout for handball denied and Chennaiyin’s Jeje fluffed a chance after a great ball was played into him in the box by Anirudh Thapa at the other end.
The low team xG scores tonight (0.65 and 0.64) tonight shows that both the teams struggled to create chances of note. Lacking pace and penetration upfront, Cidoncha, Carlos Calvo and the sub Michael Soosairaj could do little to impact as the game tamely ended in a draw.
While Chennaiyin have had a season to forget, Jamshedpur could not push the pedal when it mattered and sorely missed an injured Tim Cahill and the suspended Gourav Mukhi. Coincidentally, after the resumption of the league in January, the Red Miners have won only one game in six including tonight’s game.
That kind of form was never going to be enough for them to qualify for the play-offs. They’ve also had the propensity to draw games and have tied more than half their matches this season (9) – the highest in the league. More importantly, they lacked a No 9 upfront. Goa, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Northeast all have proper forwards in Coro, Miku, Sougou and Ogbeche. That lack of quality upfront is what led to Jamshedpur’s early demise this season.