His early strike coupled with a penalty from Esmael ‘Isma’ Goncalves (26’) gave Chennaiyin FC (CFC) a 2-1 win over Jamshedpur FC (JFC) in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Tilak Maidan here on Tuesday. Nerijus Valskis (37’) pulled one back but a string of misses ensured that Jamshedpur boss Owen Coyle started the season with a defeat to the team he managed in ISL 2019-20.
Thapa got the game off to an electrifying start, scoring in the very first minute. Rafael Crivellaro won the ball and found Isma on the right flank. The latter’s low cross was powered into the net by the midfielder.
The next few minutes made it evident what sort of a game it was going to be. Jamshedpur defender Peter Hartley wasted a golden opportunity to draw his team level in the 7th minute. Three minutes later, Isma found himself one on one with opposing custodian TP Rehenesh but failed to find the target.
Lallianzuala Chhangte missed a chance to score in the 20th minute. His first touch, as he received Crivellaro’s excellent pass, took the ball away and the subsequent effort was pushed behind by Rehenesh.
But he made amends five minutes later, drawing a push from Isaac Vanmalsawma inside the box and winning a penalty.
Isma did not make a mistake from the spot. Chennaiyin enjoyed a spell of domination soon after the second goal. With Hartley off injured, the Jamshedpur defence looked to be there for the taking.
But a familiar face had different ideas. In the 37th minute, Valskis headed in Jackichand Singh’s cross and reacted with folded hands.
The second half started off where the first had left off, with both teams creating chances. Chennaiyin forward Jakub Sylvestr wasted the best of them, firing a Chhangte cross over the bar. At the other end, Jamshedpur was pushing hard for the equaliser. Stephen Eze should have headed home in the 64th minute but missed the target while Jackichand failed to capitalise on an error by Chennaiyin keeper Vishal Kaith.