Pune: India’s Jeje Lalpekhlua scored the only goal to help Chennaiyin FC storm into semi-finals of the Indian Super League (ISL) second season with a 1-0 win over hosts FC Pune City at the Balewadi Stadium here on Saturday.
With the visitors needing only a draw to progress into the semis, 24-year-old Lalpekhlua scored in the 64th minute to help Chennaiyin reach play-off stages of the ISL with full confidence.
After their win, Chennaiyin have climbed to second spot in the points table with 22 points from 14 games, having won seven, drawn one and lost six.
With the loss in their last game of the season, Pune are now in the seventh position with 15 points from 14 games, having won four, drawn three and lost seven.
Chennaiyin’s Elano Blumer and Mehrajuddin Wadoo will miss the first leg of the semis through suspension after picking up their fourth yellow cards.
Both teams started on a positive note in the match but it was the visitors who took the initiative to surge upfront.
Chennaiyin got a couple of chances in the first half but failed to make the most of it.
The home side’s defence looked shaky right from the start letting the Chennaiyin forward to sneak into their box.
With a see-saw battle both the sides went into half-time with scoreline showing nil.
But the second half showed a much improved play from both the sides, as the teams looked to get the lead.
Finally in the 64th minute, the deadlock was broken by the Indian much to the surprise of the home fans gathered to cheer for their team in the last home match of the season.
Stiven Mendosa played the ball for Jeje whose left footed shot came off Pune defender Govin Singh Moirangthem and the rebound was slotted home by the India international at ease to make it 1-0.
From there on, Marco Materazzi’s men focused on their defence at large not to allow the opposition to level things up.
With the Chennaiyin defence standing tall right through the match, it was an empty handed return for the Pune side in the second edition.
Defending champions Atletico de Kolkata, FC Goa, Chennaiyin FC and Delhi Dynamos FC are the four teams to make it to the play-off stages of the season 2.
The first leg of the first semi-final match kick-starts on December 11.