Chennai: Italian legend Alessandro del Piero scored his first goal at the fag end of the tournament via a superb free-kick as Delhi Dynamos rallied from two goal down to hold leaders Chennaiyin FC 2-2 in a thrilling Indian Super League football match here on Tuesday.
The draw gave Delhi a small chance to make it to the semifinals as their qualification will now depend on the results of tomorrow's matches.
Chennaiyin, who now have 23 points after their league engagements ended today, and Goa FC (21 points with one match left) have already qualified for the semifinals.
Delhi have also ended their league engagements with 18 points and their fate may be decided by the result of tomorrow's match between Atletico de Kolkata -- who also have 18 points -- and Goa FC in Kolkata.
A win will seal ATK a place in the last four but a loss against Goa tomorrow by a two-goal margin may create problems for them. ATK have a goal difference of three as against two of Delhi. A loss for ATK tomorrow by two-goal margin will see their goal difference reduce to just one.
Chennai got off to an great start with Bruno Pelissari and Jeje Lalpekhlua putting them comfortably ahead in the 16th and 28th minutes respectively. Delhi hit back in the second session through Del Piero's excellent free-kick in the 53rd minute and Hans Mulder's drive from outside the area in the 88th minute.
Delhi looked the better of the two teams at the start of the game and set about attacking with purpose. They did threaten the Chennaiyin citadel time and again but were unable to make the most of their chances.
It was Chennai who took the unexpected lead. Adil Khan blocked Jeje Lalpekhlua from running on to a loose ball in the box and hit it out for a corner. The Brazilian Pelissari stepped up and curled his flag-kick directly past Kristof Van Hout and into the far corner for a sensational opener in the 16th minute that set the home side on their way.
Things did not get better for the visitors following the goal as Mads Junker went down with an injury and was replaced by Del Piero in the 23rd minute.
In the 28th minute, Jeje doubled Chennaiyin's lead after an excellent move by the home side with the ball swinging from left to right. Jeje got into the act in the final cross and hit it past Van Hout on the run.
Delhi came out in the second half with an attacking intent and pulled one back in the 53rd minute when Del Piero was brought down on the left edge of the area. The Italian stepped up and curled a precise free-kick into the top left corner for his first goal of the tournament.
As the game reached its closing stages, the pressure from Delhi increased and they did manage to find a superb equaliser two minutes from regulation time when a free kick was only half cleared.
It set up nicely for Mulder who ran on to it and smashed it past Gennaro Bracigliano from the edge of the area to make it 2-2.
Gustavo Dos Santos almost got the winner for Delhi when he curled a beautiful shot past the keeper which hit the upright and ricocheted back into play.