Margao: An incredible five minutes at the death produced three goals in a scintillating Indian Super League 2015 final -- with Chennaiyin FC snatching victory from the jaws of defeat with Colombian striker Stiven Mendoza scoring the winner in a 3-2 win.
The scoreline was 1-1 when Spanish midfielder Joffre Mateu scored a freekick to put Goa in the lead from behind, going on to celebrate shirtless on his teammates' shoulders. But, minutes later, Mehrajuddin Wadoo's long ball scooted off goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani's gloves and looped into the net in the 90th minute to make the score 2-2.
Seconds later, Mendoza had his shirt off -- as he latched onto substitute Jayesh Rane's long ball, powered past centrebacks Gregory Arnolin and Lucio, to slip a left-footed finish past Kattimani to win it in added time for Chennaiyin.
It was Mendoza's 13th goal of the season and came after he had missed a penalty in the second half in a madcap of a final which easily trumped last year's cagey 1-0 win for Atletico de Kolkata over Kerala Blasters.
Kattimani had taunted the Colombian throughout the night after he took multiple tumbles in and around the box in what seemed to be an attempt to win dangerous set-pieces.
The two times he was felled in the box (by Pranoy Halder and Kattimani), there was no doubt about the penalties given. Bruno Pelissari scored the first one off a rebound from a save to give Chennaiyin the lead before Thongkhosiem Haokip tapped in from Romeo Fernandes' cracking and unmissable diagonal cross.
Haokip could have scored again after meeting Rafael Coelho's cross with a trick-shot with his back-leg, but Chennaiyin keeper Edel Bete held on.
Edel later called the win 'strange' as some of the scenes in the closing stages were unbelievable.
Both coaches made fruitful changes with Haokip, Rane, Elano and Jonathan Lucca all making significant contributions to the match.
Earlier, Goa started off proceedings with a lightning attack as Romeo broke away down the right within the first minute, only to see his cross mishit by the onrushing Mandar. It came on the winger's weaker right foot but he should have done better.
That triggered a quarter of fouls, dives and pointless tiffs in the middle, with Mendoza slipping at every opportunity and asking for fouls. Dudu was injured on the 5th minute and had to go off after a head clash with Mailson Alves which forced Zico to bring in Lucca to add bite to midfield.
The first half saw Chennaiyin create two clearcut chances as Pelissari first skipped past Lucio only to sky his shot before Mendoza's brilliant trickery helped him play a one-two with Jeje. The Indian showed extra-ordinary strength to hold his markers off before setting up Mendoza one-on-one with Kattimani, who pulled off a fine save off a deflected shot.
Romeo got a lot of space down the right, and even capitalised on Mendoza's excellently trapped ball to release Coelho in what would have been a surreal turnover and counter, but Mailson Alves was there to throw a last-ditch tackle to stop Goa's lone striker from pulling the trigger.
The half however, belonged to Bikramjit Singh and Pranoy Halder who closed off the left flank for Goa with exemplary marking and positioning. Bikramjit, deployed in defensive midfield, almost always added up as a centre-back when Chennaiyin had the ball and this frustrated Marco Materazzi.
However, it was the Italian who ended the night with the trophy in his hands -- getting one over Zico in a battle of two teams who play a firebrand style of football. The result was a final that will be remembered for a long time.
Updated Date: Dec 21, 2015 07:27 AM