The result meant that East Bengal is seated firmly on top of the standings after its victory against Shillong Lajong earlier in the day. Spaniard Nestor Jesus opened the scoring for the home team as early as the ninth minute before Serbian defender Nenad Novakovic equalised for the tourist in the second half. Israil Gurung then put the Goa side ahead, taking advantage of a goalkeeping error only for Chennai’s second Spanish midfielder Sandro to draw level soon after.
Chennai’s Singaporean coach Akbar Nawas opted to start with Lourdusamy in midfield in place of Tarif Akhand who had started its first game.
Churchill’s Romanian coach Petra Gigiu, on the other hand, made two changes to the side which played defending champion Minerva Punjab. Israil Gurung and Vinil Poojary got a start in place of Lamgoulen Hangshing and Fredsan Marshall respectively.
CCFC burst into the lead early when Pedro Manzi sent Nestor through outside the Chennai box on the left. Nestor drove inside and placed an angled left-footer neatly across the face of goal, beating diving Churchill keeper James Kithan to find the back of the net.
Churchill and its Gambian forward Dawda Cessay in particular then tried to show some urgency to get the equaliser, but CCFC took the one-goal advantage into half-time.
The introduction of Clencio Pinto in place of the off-colour Vinil Poojary in the second half injected a lot of purpose and flair into the Churchill attack. In the 51st minute, Israil Gurung floated one near the first post off a corner and Serbian Novakovic rose to head in the equaliser.
Two more goals then followed in the space of five minutes. First in the 58th minute, after Cessay’s laborious effort along the right flank, Pinto got hold of the ball and floated in a low cross from just outside the box. A seemingly easy collection by the goalkeeper saw the ball slip out of the grasp and to the horror of Chennai City’s custodian Kabir, Israil Gurung was at hand to slot in an easy goal.
Churchill’s lead was short-lived however as barely four minutes later, Sandro got hold of the ball inside the Churchill box off a Romario Jesuraj cross.
He turned one defender with a deft body move and shot towards goal. It eluded James Kithan on the near post and went in after hitting Churchill defender Wayne Vaz’s chest.
Chennai City did finish the game stronger but in the end, it was perhaps a fair result. Churchill has now collected two points from its first two games while CCFC has four points, having played the same number of matches.