Second half substitute Bruno Pelissari produced a late moment of magic to help league leaders Chennaiyin FC beat Kerala Blasters FC 1-0 and extend their lead at the top of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) standings here Sunday.
With this win, Marco Materazzi’s side, who have 22 points, move five points clear of second placed Atletico De Kolkata.
The first home defeat leaves the hosts in fourth place with 15 points.
Chennai emerged victorious for the second time in what was dubbed as the south Indian derby, having won 2-1 in Chennai earlier.
With over 60,000 fans behind them, Kerala were favourites to win but the visitors were clearly the better side on the night.
The game started with both sides unable find the right passes in the middle of the park.
Chennai looked the more threatening but Kerala looked more organised at the back with Sandesh Jhingan sweeping up everything in his path.
There were 27 free kicks awarded in the first half itself and most of the efforts were from outside the box.
Kerala went on the back foot after goalkeeper-manager David James picked up an injury and left the pitch in the 20th minute.
The second half started with a great chance for Kerala with C.S. Sabeeth playing Iain Hume through on goal. The No.10 hit the ball across the face of goal and just wide of the post.
A match winning substitution by Materazzi saw Cristian Hidalgo taken off for Bruno Pelissari late in the second half.
In the 87th minute, the 21-year-old Brazilian carried the ball from his own half into the Kerala danger area.
With a couple of defenders in front of him, Pelissari stepped inside and beautifully curled the ball into the far corner with his left foot past a helpless Kerala goalie.
Chennai host FC Goa Dec 5 at home while a day earlier Kerala Blasters host NorthEast United FC here.