Chennaiyin FC played out their third consecutive draw, sharing the spoils in a goalless game against ATK Mohun Bagan at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Saturday. In terms of playoff moves, both Chennaiyin FC and ATK Mohun Bagan gained no significant advantage through this result.
Abdenasser El Khayati returned to training last week but was still not part of the Chennaiyin FC squad as Thomas Brdaric fielded an unchanged XI. For the visitors, one big change saw the return of Manvir Singh to the lineup after almost two months. The winger made his 100th ISL appearance and replaced Ashique Kuruniyan.
Three minutes into the game, Liston Colaco danced his way past Ajith Kumar down the left flank, but the low cross into the box was intercepted by Julius Duker. A minute later, Brendan Hamill got in front of the Chennaiyin FC defence and side-footed Dimitrios Petratos' corner straight at Samik Mitra.
The best chance of the first half came near the 20-minute mark and fell to Chennaiyin FC. Ajith's cross from the right flank sailed over the Bagan defence and landed at the feet of an unmarked Anirudh Thapa. The midfielder took a touch before firing his shot wide from close range.
Closing in on the half-hour mark, at the other end, Hamill had another chance to put his side in front when Petratos' inch-perfect delivery from a freekick came straight to the defender. With the goal at his mercy, Hamill headed it wide at the far post as both sides went into the break with the deadlock intact.
Two minutes into the second half, Colaco played a clever give-and-go with Boumous near the edge of the box before getting his shot away from an acute angle. Mitra produced a block at the near post to keep his side in the game. Five minutes later, Vishal Kaith parried Duker's freekick effort away before Sliskovic failed to do anything with the rebound.
In the 76th minute, shortly after coming on, Edwin Vanspaul's effort from outside the box was palmed away at full stretch by Vishal Kaith. Five minutes from time, Vincy Barretto cut inside from the left flank and unleashed a powerful shot at goal from outside the box, but Kaith palmed it over the bar.
This was the story of the entire game. A mixture of good defending, goalkeeping and finishing that wasn't clinical enough kept the score unchanged till the full-time whistle. Neither side looked content with a point but had to settle for it. The result came as another missed opportunity in the playoff race for the hosts - they sit in eighth place, two points behind Bengaluru FC and three off the final playoff spot with a game in hand. The visitors continue to search for their first win of the New Year and are a point behind Kerala Blasters who occupy third place. Both sides failed to move up a place in the table. The teams will be back in action on January 28, with Chennaiyin FC locking horns with Bengaluru FC and ATK Mohun Bagan playing Odisha FC.