I-League: Neroca snatch draw vs Chennai City in thrilling tie that left title race open

first_img India Today Web Desk ImphalFebruary 11, 2019UPDATED: February 11, 2019 21:29 IST I-League 2018-19: Neroca FC produced a sensational 2nd half performance to draw with Chennai City. (AIFF Photo)HIGHLIGHTSPedro Manzi scored a hat-trick for Chennai City in the first half of the matchFelix Chidi, Chencho and Aryn Williams scored for Neroca in the thrilling drawChennai City lead the league table with 34 points, just 2 points head of second-placed Real KashmirNeroca FC turned the tables on I-League table toppers Chennai City FC and how. It was a match defined by the two 45-minute halves where either teams reigned supreme. In a thrilling tie, Neroca drew 3-3 against Chennai and opened up the league’s title race. Chennai City still hold the top spot but it’s going to be a spicy last phase of the league from hereon.Pedro Manzi was the star for Chennai City in the first half where he scored a hat-trick – his fourth of the season – and goals in 34′, 41′ and 45+1′ minutes meant Chennai City were well on top at half time. However, Neroca turned it around completely in the second half as Felix Chidi, Chencho and Aryn Williams scored in the second half to snatch a draw.Chennai City FC now lead the I-League table with 34 points in 16 matches and are two points clear of debutants Real Kashmir FC who are placed second now. Neroca FC are now placed fifth in the points table with 26 points from 17 matches.Neroca dominated the first half with left-winger Singham Subhash Singh troubling the Chennai defence with repeated forays down the left flank and channel.Two such forays in the 17th and 20th minute found Katsumi’s head. The Japanese was closer from the first one, making good contact on the near post but missed the target.Then in the 26th minute, a wonderful ball from Aryn Williams found Chencho through and the Bhutanese sniper rounded the goalkeeper, but his attempted cross from a narrow-angle with the goal empty was cut out for a corner.advertisementHowever in the 34th minute, quite against the run of play, Chennai’s three classy Spanish attackers combined for yet another wonderfully crafted goal to give the visitors the lead.3goals in [email protected]@hotstartweets #HeroILeague #ILeagueIConquer pic.twitter.com/iVk4kWzMNoHero I-League (@ILeagueOfficial) February 11, 2019Sandro found Nestor Jesus on the left flank with a long ball from just inside their own half. The mercurial Nestor cut in and from just outside the box noticed Pedro Manzi’s run inside the box and played him in. Manzi swooped in and with a left-footed jab, slid the ball into the net from between keeper Lalit Thapa’s legs for his 14th strike of the campaign. Nestor also recorded his sixth assist to go with his six goals.Then disaster struck in the 41st minute as Liberian defender Varney Kallon inexplicably gave the ball away to none other than Manzi with only the keeper in front of him. The striker drove forward, kept his cool and slotted home over the keeper’s right shoulder.Neroca then had a chance to get one back when Malem was in the clear inside the box thanks to another great Aryn Williams ball, but the midfielders powerful strike towards goal was wonderfully saved by substitute keeper Kabir.Pedro Manzi then completed his fourth hat-trick of the league in the first minute of added time. Pandiyan broke away on the right and delivered a cross towards the goal. Manzi, ever present at the right place, stuck his left foot out to beat Thapa on the near post.When it looked like Neroca were down out, they decided they were not going down without a fight and struck early in the second half through substitute Felix Chidi.Chencho played Chidi inside the box from the left in between two defenders. Chidi controlled, rounded the keeper and slid the ball with his left boot into the empty Chennai net for his sixth goal of the league campaign.Another wonderful move initiated once again by Aryn Williams from the right, saw Chidi’s header just go wide of the goal from close. Neroca was building good pressure now and after two successive corners, got their second through Chencho.Singham Subash crossed the ball from the right flank and that was brilliantly headed back by Katsumi towards a lurking Chencho. He controlled and drilled the ball past Kabir was his second goal in as many games in his second stint with the Hero I-League after being the star for Minerva Punjab last season.He then missed the chance to draw level after a defensive error saw him one on one with Kabir, who brought up a brilliant save to deny the hosts.Neroca then struck again through Aryn Williams in the additional time (90+1′) to bring the score to 3-all, thereby denying the visitors a chance to walk with all the three points.Also Read | Swiss giants FC Basel buy stakes in Chennai City FC in landmark dealAlso Read | Wolfe penalty helps Churchill Brothers eke out a draw vs Mohun BaganAlso Read | Real Kashmir FC vs East Bengal postponed due to thick snow cover in SrinagaradvertisementFor sports news, updates, live scores and cricket fixtures, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for Sports news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Tags :Follow I-League 2018-19Follow Neroca FCFollow Chennai City FCFollow Pedro ManziFollow Felix ChidiFollow ChenchoFollow Aryn WilliamsFollow Indian football I-League: Neroca snatch draw vs Chennai City in thrilling tie that left title race openI-League: Neroca FC made a dramatic second half turnaround to force a 3-3 draw against league table toppers Chennai City FC and left the race for the title wide open.advertisement Nextlast_img read more