Colombo FC went down fighting to a strong Chennaiyin FC 1-0 in the 2nd leg and on aggregate in the AFC Cup 2019 Playoff Stage played at The Arena StansStadia Ahmedabad, India.
Colombo FC and Chennaiyin FC played off a nil all draw in the 1st leg match played last week at Racecourse Stadium in Colombo. Both teams came into the second leg with equal opportunity to qualify for the group stage of the competition.
As expected Chennaiyin made changes to the starting line-up bringing in Chris Herd, C.K Vineeth upfront to partner Jeje Lalpekhlua and Thoi Sing who was a substitute in the 1st leg. Colombo FC on the other hand were made to sweat on the fitness of Duckson Puslas who made the starting eleven.
Colombo FC kicked-off proceedings and immediately lost procession and from then on, the home team kept the ball for long periods of time. Colombo FC defense held their discipline and ensured no easy passing moves are given.
The first opportunity came in the way of a set play when Chalana Chameera committed a foul and Mailson Alves climbed high to head it just away from the goal. Bodric Dimitri then made a good run on the left wing and sent in a cross which was cut off by Alves.
Major share of possession was with Chennaiyin and looked to score when they moved forward. However Colombo FC defense stood tall and garrisoned stoutly.
A rare opportunity fell for the visitors when an uncleared throw-in fell to Issac Addevu whose powerful volley was well saved by Karanjit Singh in Chennai goal. In the follow up corner too Colombo went close to score with the header, this time going astray from Issac.
From then on Colombo FC went toe to toe with Chennaiyin and made brilliant moves to create opportunities with Mohamed Fazal being instrumental in creating space for the front players.
Colombo’s best opportunity in the first-half came in the way of a free kick inside the penalty box for a back-pass infringement. Momas Yapo blasted the ball over the post which took a deflection as well. Karanjit Singh was put under immense pressure with back to back corners following that play. Colombo FC looked dangerous and made the crowd anxious.
Half Time – Chennaiyin FC 0 – 0 Colombo FC
The second half started as the first with Chennaiyin FC dominating possession and Colombo not giving an inch of space for them to get through to the final third. When they did get behind the defense line, the home team looked to score. However the goal line clearances kept coming for Colombo FC.
Colombo FC brought in fresh legs on the hour mark when Siraj Jain replaced Afeel Mohamed in the midfield as coach Roomy looked to bolster the defense.
Kaveesh Fernando then made a brilliant save to deny C.K Vineeth who found time and space after a mistake by Niran Kanishka who gave away the ball to Raphael Augusto. Augusto making a run to the left cut the ball onto the path of Vineeth.
The defense line was finally broken in the 68th minute by Jeje Lalpekhlua who pounced on a missed clearance from Chalana Chameera to gift a goal to Chennaiyin.
Colombo FC needed an away goal to win the tie from then on and sent in Zarwan Johar replacing Mohamed Aakib. Chennaiyin looked to sit back and keep possession as they knew Colombo had to come out seeking the equalizer.
Going into the final minutes, Colombo FC pulled out all stocks to find an equalizer. Chennaiyin FC this time around turned to their defense and held off strongly to progress to the group stage of the AFC Cup 2019.
Colombo FC can take great heart in their performance in the tournament and look forward to go shoulder to shoulder against much stronger teams.
Full Time – Chennaiyin FC 1 – 0 Colombo FC
Chennaiyin FC – Jeje Lalpekhlua 68’
Chennaiyin FC – Christopher Herd 12’
Colombo FC – Chalana Chameera 5’