2021-22 Indian Super League, Regular Season
  • Vishal Kaith (50' OG)
  • Lallianzuala Chhangte (41')
  • Anirudh Thapa (74')

ISL 2021-22: Thapa, Chhangte help Chennaiyin see off NorthEast United

Anirudh Thapa scores a sublime winner for Chennaiyin against NorthEast United. Pal Pillai/Focus Sports/ ISL

Lallianzuala Chhangte and Anirudh Thapa took centre stage as Chennaiyin FC rallied to beat NorthEast United FC 2-1 at Fatorda on Sunday.

Chhangte (41') broke the deadlock with a stunning finish on the half-turn, before VP Suhair (50') made the most of an error from Vishal Kaith to equalise. A while later, newly anointed Chennaiyin captain Thapa (74') sealed the deal with a fine strike.

Federico Gallego's return to the starting XI for the first time this season headlined the team news ahead of kickoff. Mathias Coureur too came back into Khalid Jamil's team. Meanwhile, Narayan Das had a new role at centre back for Chennaiyin as Jerry Lalrinzuala assumed his position at left back.

Apart from a flash where Chhangte opted for a low percentage shot instead of a pull back from a promising position, it was all NorthEast in the opening exchanges.

Gallego's quality was on display as he pulled the strings in midfield, a slide rule pass to Coureur that the latter wasted a particularly stunning piece of play. Unfortunately for him and NorthEast, though, Gallego could only last 24 minutes as he pulled up injured after an innocuous looking collision with Narayan Das.

After Gallego's exit, the game shifted Chennaiyin's way slowly even as Suhair's header from a long throw-in was saved by Vishal Kaith and then Hernan Santana's long-ranger went inches above.

Chhangte dribbled past a couple of markers and sped into the box before blazing over from another good position. Soon, though, he would make amends. A well-structured counter-press down the right led to Chhantge pounced onto a loose touch, before smashing the ball into the goal off the crossbar. It was a moment of real quality.

Jamil made two changes post the break and results showed immediately. Five minutes in, VP Suhair, relatively unmarked, headed the ball past a hopelessly stranded Vishal Kaith from a long-throw in by Provat Lakra. NorthEast had found the equaliser with more than 40 minutes to go.

Moments later, a rebound off the post fell to Lalkhawpuimawia inside the box, who shot wide despite having an empty net to aim at. Post the hour mark, Mirlan Murzaev found the back of the net but it was ruled out for offside.

It was then that Thapa to have his final say in the game. Murzaev played in the midfielder from a long ball. Thapa's run was superbly timed, his touch perfect and finish unerring. That would ensure Chennaiyin have six points with two wins out of two. NorthEast, meanwhile, have just a point in three game.