John Gregory’s men go down 2-3 to Abahani Limited Dhaka in an away fixture.
On-loan forward CK Vineeth gave Chennaiyin an early lead in the fixture. After the change of ends, Abahani came from behind in the second half with two goals in five minutes. Isaac Vanmalsawma drew CFC level soon after, but Mamunul Islam’s late goal handed the Dhaka side all three points.
With the result, Abahani drew level with Chennaiyin on seven points from four games. CFC however remains top on goal difference.
Chennaiyin made a bright start as Laldinliana Renthlei made a surging run down the right in the fourth minute, combining with Francisco Fernandes. The full-back got into a promising position but could only find the Abahani keeper with his cross. The away side did convert its dominance into the opening goal in the sixth minute.
Isaac’s corner-kick found Vineeth unmarked at the far post and the Kerala-born striker tapped it in for his first AFC Cup goal of the season. Leading by a solitary goal at the break, CFC was quick off the blocks in the second period. Anirudh Thapa was the orchestrator in midfield as he laid up Isaac at the edge of the box on the break. Isaac took a touch before curling it past the Abahani keeper, only for the shot to strike the crossbar and go over.
At the other end, Abahani continued to get into promising positions. In the 65th minute, it found a way past the Chennaiyin backline and Karanjit Singh. A long ball found Belfort in space, who pulled away from Mailson Alves before placing it out of the goalie’s reach to make it 1-1. Dhaka then went 2-1 up after five minutes, through Masih Saighani’s well-taken free-kick from the right.
The Afghan defender curled it past Karanjit, his effort going in off the crossbar. In response, CFC made its first change as Thoi Singh replaced Francisco.
The Manipuri winger made an instant impact as he ran on to Mailson’s slightly over hit pass, creating confusion in the Abahani box. Thoi managed to keep his feet before squaring it to Isaac, who kept his calm and slid it in to make it 2-2. Karanjit made a brilliant save in the 84th minute to deny the host.
Abahani was a threat from long throws all evening. It was from one such chance it got the winner in the final stages. The second ball fell to Mamunul, whose half-volley flew into the top corner.
Result: Abahani Limited Dhaka 3 (Kervens Belfort 64, Masih Saighani 69, Mamunul Islam 88) beat Chennaiyin FC 2 (CK Vineeth 6, Isaac Vanmalsawma 74).