An 87th-minute Bartholomew Ogbeche penalty helped Hyderabad FC seal a crucial point against Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the G.M.C. Balayogi Athletic Stadium in Hyderabad on Thursday. Petar Sliskovic put the visitors in front with his eighth goal of the season in the 57th minute before Ogbeche converted a penalty at the death to keep his side's unbeaten streak alive and dent Chennaiyin FC's playoffs hopes.
Both sides made a couple of changes to their respective starting XIs. For the hosts, Joel Chianese dropped to the bench, while Halicharan Narzary missed the match due to an injury. Javier Siverio and Rohit Danu were drafted into the lineup. For the visitors, Edwin Vanspaul and Prasanth Karuthadathkuni were left on the bench as Jiteshwor Singh returned to the lineup, and Ninthoinganba Meetei was handed his first start of the season.
In the 17th minute, Mohammad Yasir whipped a promising ball in from the right flank that found the head of Siverio. The striker guided it on target, but it was too close to goalkeeper Samik Mitra, who collected it comfortably. This was Hyderabad's first promising opportunity after Borja Herrera's off-target effort in the 5th minute.
Julius Duker created a couple of chances for Chennaiyin FC in quick succession close to the 20th minute. The midfielder lobbed a long ball from midfield towards Vincy Barretto inside the box, but the winger failed to apply the finishing touch. Minutes later, Duker saw his promising cross from the left flank headed wide by Sliskovic.
In the 56th minute, Meetei's darting run down the right flank saw him dribble past Nim Dorjee and get his shot away before Odei Onaindia came in with a crucial block to put it out for a corner. From the resulting set piece, Aakash Sangwan found Sliskovic in the box and the striker headed the ball into the back of the net to break the deadlock in the 57th minute.
Ten minutes from time, Chennaiyin FC kept piling the pressure on the defending champions. Barretto waltzed down the left side, cut inside onto his right foot and tried to curl his effort into the far post. However, Gurmeet Singh went down quickly to deny the winger.
In the 86th minute, Hyderabad FC were given a lifeline when Vafa Hakhamaneshi brought Siverio down in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Ogbeche stepped up to take the crucial spot kick and made no mistake in slotting it past Mitra. A tense period of end-to-end football followed until the final whistle, with both sides creating chances but failing to take three points from a thrilling fixture that will affect the courses of both their seasons from here on.
Hyderabad FC stay in second, a point behind leaders Mumbai City FC, who have a game in hand. The defending champions will face East Bengal FC at the Salt Lake Stadium next on January 20, Friday. Chennaiyin FC remain in seventh place, now three points away from the final playoffs spot. They will head home to host ATK Mohun Bagan next on January 21, Saturday.