ISL Throwback: When Sandesh Jhingan rallied Kerala Blasters against Chennaiyin
With less than 10 days left for the New Year’s Eve two years ago, Kerala Blasters travelled to Chennai chasing their second win of the season under Rene Meulensteen.
They had won their previous match 1-0 against NorthEast United but were still reeling from a heavy 5-2 loss to FC Goa in just their fourth match of the season. The first three games were stalemates and the last thing the Yellow Army needed was to return empty-handed from Chennai.
Ironically. Blasters lost to Bengaluru FC on New Year’s Eve and Meulensteen was sacked following that defeat. But the game against Chennaiyin still stands out due to the fighting spirit that yielded a last-gasp winner after going down to a penalty that was a harsh decision.
Jhingan may have had his issues with the coach during that period but that fixture was a good example of why the fanbase came to adore the defender.
After a drab first half and 44 minutes of second-half without goals, a Francisco Fernandes strike was blocked by a sliding Sandesh Jhingan inside the box. The referee, however, deemed it to have struck the defender’s arm and pointed to the spot, leaving the Kerala Blasters players, bench and the travelling fans shocked.
It was a wrong call by the referee and Jhingan was left shell-shocked. It was the 90th minute of the game and with the game heading to injury time, the team was on the verge of another bad defeat.
The Blasters skipper showed how not to give up by turning up at the other end with an excellent cross off a throw-in on the right flank in added time. The hosts were hit when they least expected it and Jhingan’s lung-busting run down the right flank and the cross that followed were appreciated by CK Vineeth who tapped the ball into the net to register a last-gasp equaliser.
The defender’s presence-of-mind was widely praised after that game. And it remains a small yet one of the most memorable details of Jhingan’s six-season long career at the Kochi-based club. In a club record 76 appearances, Jhingan has made four assists and hasn’t picked up a single red card.