Shillong, Feb 18: Shillong Lajong FC went down fighting 2-4 against the top of the table side Chennai City FC in their 8th home game of the Hero I-League 2018-19 season at the JN Stadium in Shillong on Monday.
Sandro Rodriguez opened the scoring for the visitors in the 7th minute of the game but Kitbok Pale scored his maiden I-league goal in the 23rd minute to level the score. Pedro Manzi and Nestor Gordillo scored in the 78th and 81st minute before Samuel Kynshi scored from the penalty spot in the 85th minute. Pedro Manzi doubled his tally at the 90th minute making it 2-4 for Chennai City. With 5 goals, Samuel Kynshi is now The Reds’ highest goal-scorer for this season.
Coach Alison had to make one change in his starting line-up as Rakesh Pradhan made way for Kynsailang Khongsit with an injury. The game didn’t start well for the young boys in Red as the visitors started dominating from the very beginning. They earned themselves two corners in the early minutes and it was Sandro Rodriguez who scored directly from the second corner at the 7th minute. Lajong keeper Phurba Lachenpa injured himself in the process and had to be stretchered off and replaced by Neitho Chalieu.
It didn’t take long for Lajong to level the score as in the 23rd minute Kitbok Pale found himself at the end of a beautiful move and netted his first I-League goal. It was Samuel Kynshi who won the ball in the midfield and made his run after feeding the ball to Mahesh Naorem. Mahesh took on two defenders and created an excellent through ball at the feet of Kitbok who made no mistake to make it 1-1.
After the equalizer, Lajong then started to dominate the game creating many half-chances up front. The Reds’ forwards were able to catch the Chennai defenders off guard plenty of time, but they were not able to create a clear opening at goal and the first half ended at 1-1.
Right from the beginning of the second half, it was all the visitors who saw most of the ball possession and were dictating the tempo of the game. Despite having the majority of the possession, it was the young Lajong boys who were putting pressure on Chennai defence with their counter-attacks. Kitbok Pale had a chance to double his tally midway through the second half, but he didn’t manage to convert the one on one chance up front. It was in the 78th minute when Chennai City took back the lead from a set piece. Sandro’s free-kick was put in the back of the net by Pedro Manzi from a well-timed header.
Three minutes later the visitors were able to double their lead through Nestor Gordillo. Pedro Manzi’s cross from the right wing missed everyone and fell perfectly for Nestor to head in and make it 1-3 for Chennai in the 81st minute. The Lajong boys fought strong and were able to get a goal back soon after. Mahesh Naorem was through on goal and was brought down by a Chennai defender and Lajong were awarded a penalty. Samuel Kynshi stepped up to take the spot-kick and put his shot past the Chennai keeper in the 85th minute.
Lajong was fighting hard in search of an equalizer but against the run of play, it was Spaniard Pedro Manzi who made it 2-4 in the 90th minute for the visitors. The additional 3 minutes didn’t see much of action and The Reds came short despite putting up a good show.
Shillong Lajong will now host Gokulam Kerala FC on 22nd February at the JN Stadium in Shillong.