Chennai: Riding on a splendid performance, hosts Chennaiyin FC moved a step closer to cement their semifinals spot as they thrashed hapless Mumbai City FC 3-0 in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Tuesday.
Goals from Stiven Mendoza (9th minute), Jeje Lalpekhlua (17th) and Bernard Mendy (45th) guided the hosts to comfortable victory in their last home match of the season.
With the win, Chennaiyin climb to fourth spot with 19 points from 13 games, having won six, lost six and drawn one.
On the other hand, after a poor run in this season, Mumbai's dream of making it to the play-offs were shattered after they were beaten in all departments of the game. The visitors find themselves struggling in seventh position with 13 points from 13 games, having lost six, won three and drawn four.
For the crucial match, the Marco Materazzi-managed Chennai made two changes. Mailson Alves made way for Alessandro Potenza who returned after serving a one-match suspension, while the suspended Harmanjot Khabra was replaced by Zakeer Mundampara.
The Nicolas Anelka-managed Mumbai made four changes: Rowilson Rodrigues, Darren O'Dea, Frederic Piquionne and Ashutosh Mehta were all included in the starting XI in place of Aitor Fernindez Lopez, Pavel Cmovs, Saran Singh and Subash Singh.
It was a one-sided encounter right from the word go, as the hosts took on the initiative to play aggressively and move as close as possible in their opposition box.
Colombian footballer Mendoza, who is now the season's top scorer with 11 goals, helped side get the lead within 10 minutes of play.
Much to the surprise of the visitors, Mendoza was put through on goal with a wonderful pass by Mundampara. The Colombian made no mistake from the six-yard box, slotting the ball past Mumbai goalkeeper Subrata Paul and into the bottom left corner with ease, to give his team the lead.
Just eight minutes after taking the lead, the hosts doubled it to make it even more difficult for Mumbai to stage a comeback.
Thoi Singh knocked the ball forward from inside the box and it looked like the ball was heading straight to the keeper. But Jeje reacted the earliest to tap it past Paul, to make it 2-0 for the hosts.
From there on, Chennaiyin never looked back as they pressed even more into the Mumbai box to create more chances. Mumbai, however, failed to sneak through the hosts' defence.
To make it impossible for Mumbai to even think of staging a comeback, Chennaiyin scored their third of the night in first-half stoppage time, to ensure Mumbai had no chance to qualify for the semis.
Skipper Mendy made a good run and was found by Thoi. The French footballer was through one-on-one with Paul and delightfully chipped the ball over the keeper to find the back of the net in a classy finish to make it 3-0.
Chennaiyin next travel to face FC Pune City in their last league match of the season on December 5, while Mumbai will play for pride against defending champions Atletico de Kolkata in an away match on December 4.
(with agency inputs)