I-League 2018-19: Sandro Rodriguez's twin strikes helps leaders Chennai City FC beat Aizawl FC
Chennai City FC now have 13 points from five games, seven points clear of second-placed East Bengal and third-placed Churchill Brothers.
Aizawl: Chennai City FC rode on twin strikes from Sandro Rodriguez to pip Aizawl FC 2-1 thereby maintaining their pole position in the I-League football tournament on Friday.
Liberian striker Ansumana Kromah's 72nd-minute goal for the hosts was not good enough to prevent a second consecutive loss.
The southerners now have 13 points from five games, seven points clear of second-placed East Bengal and third-placed Churchill Brothers.
Aizawl, who won the I-League two seasons back, find themselves at the bottom of the table with three losses and two draws from their five games so far.
The hosts began confidently enough and pressed high from the get-go. In fact, they even created two chances in the first quarter of an hour, but Leonce Dodoz, guilty of many misses on the day, muffed both of them.
After a goalless first half, Kromah's head from close range in the 48th minute, saw a reflex save from goalkeeper Kabir.
In the very next minute, Duata gave away a needless foul in a dangerous position outside the Aizawl box. He was made to pay as Sandro struck his second brilliant free-kick of the league to beat Lawmpuia all ends and put Chennai in the lead.
Aizawl tried to get back into the game immediately when Dodoz got at the end of a blunder of a back-pass by the Chennai defence but he could not beat Kabir from eight yards out.
Aizawl coach Gift Raikhan meanwhile kept ringing in the changes in search of an equaliser. He had got in Mapuia in place of Lalrinfela and Rinchena in place of Govin Singh. But it was his third substitute Isak, who played a role in the goal that finally came Aizawl's way.
In the 72nd minute, Isak put in a wonderful cross from the right flank, which beat the Chennai defence to land at Dodoz's feet. The Beninese fumbled and the ball after hitting Kabir fell to Kromah on the rebound, who tapped in for the easiest of goals.
But there is a reason why Chennai are sitting pretty at the top of the table and their Spanish recruit was to deliver again when it mattered most.
In the 77th minute, Romario Jesuraj made one of his surging runs down the right flank and cut inside the box to keep a measured cross which Sandro connected with a powerful left-footer.
Chennai now go back home to Coimbatore after winning all their three games on the road while Aizawl need to find a way to be less expansive in front of goal, whether home or away.
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