Chennai: Fito struck at the very end as Chennai City FC salvaged a point against Maldives' Maziya S&R with a 2-2 draw in their 2020 AFC Cup Group E tie at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Wednesday.
Spaniard Fito's 11th-minute goal for Chennai separated the sides going into the break but Maziya replied in the second half through strikes from Mohamed Irufaan and Ibrahim Mahudhee Hussain. Fito, however, had the final say as he equalised for the home side in second half added time.
The result leaves both teams trailing Bangladesh's Bashundhara Kings, who defeated Maldives' TC Sports Club 5-1 earlier on Wednesday.
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Maziya, who beat India’s JSW Bengaluru FC over two legs in the Play-offs, tested Chennai goalkeeper Nauzet Santana in the opening minute with Cornelius Stewart’s effort from outside the box.
The Maldivian club tried to control the early proceedings but Chennai got their act together and Maziya custodian Shareef Hussain was forced into a save by Mashoor Shereef Thangalakath’s shot from inside the box in the seventh minute.
Maziya's Stewart had a chance a minute later but his effort from outside the box was easily dealt with by the Chennai custodian.
Chennai, however, found their breakthrough in the 11th minute after Fito charged his way into the box on the left before squeezing in a shot from an acute angle past a helpless Hussain.
An undaunted Maziya came charging forward minutes later but Ibrahim Mahudhee Hussain and Moosa Yaamin both saw their efforts saved, while Ibrahim Aisham failed to find the target from inside the box.
Sharif Mukhammad then had a chance to equalise in the 39th minute but the Afghanistan national whisked his free-kick above the bar as Chennai took a 1-0 lead into the break.
Chennai controlled the early part of the second half but as Maziya gradually grew into the game, the Indian side found themselves under increasing pressure.
Maziya’s aggression paid off as they equalised in the 64th minute after Mohamed Hamza sent in a deep cross from a set-piece which Mohamed Irufaan nodded past the outstretched arms of Santana.
The Maldives outfit went 2-1 up three minutes later as Ibrahim Mahudhee Hussain found the back of the net with his shot from inside the box.
Chennai, however, kept pressing and Fito ensured they finished the match with a share of the spoils as he reacted quickest to a rebound.
Maziya will face Bashundhara Kings on April 14, while Chennai travel to Maldives a day later to face TC Sports.
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