Chennaiyin FC lifted their game to beat fancied Bengaluru FC by 3-2, clinching the Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-2018 title for the second time.
Chennaiyin FC’s Mailson Alves turned out to be the star of the title with a brace. And there was also some Brazilian touch to the game. Mailson first scored in the 17th minute, which cancelled Sunil Chhetri’s ninth minute opener for the hosts, and then propelled his side to a remarkable lead with another leaping header in the 45th minute.
Raphael Augusto, also a Brazilian, added to the home team’s agony with his 67th minute strike, leaving the raucous home fans stunned at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, which was packed to the rafters.
Miku scored for Bengaluru in injury time but that proved to be too little, too late.
Interestingly, four out of the five goals came through headers.
In their quest to find the equaliser, Bengaluru FC often left gap in the back line, and Chennaiyin took full advantage of that to close out the game. Entering the final after an unbeaten run of 10 games, Bengaluru FC started it in the earnest and effected the first breakthrough.
Chhetri’s opening goal gave Bengaluru FC the advantage they needed early on in the summit showdown. The goal scorer headed in after the impressive Udanta Singh, with a great burst of pace down the wings, made the assist.
The home team’s joy, though, was short lived as Alves jumped high to meet Gregory Nelson’s corner and headed in the equaliser.
As the half time approached and with both teams looking contend to be locked at 1-1, Mailson found himself at the right place as the centre half rose as high as possible to head in one more time off a set piece past a hapless Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
Bengaluru FC tried to create openings in the second half but it was the visiting side that tasted success, with Augusto finding the back of the net.
This was Chennaiyin FC’s second title triumph in the ISL, tying them is ATK as the most successful team in the tournament.
*Originally published on firstpost.com