Both ISL matches on Sunday ended as drawn games with identical 1-1 results. In the first match at Salt Lake stadium, hosts Atletico de Kolkata were held to a 1-1 draw by Delhi Dynamos, who equalized from a 74th minute magic goal by Pavel Elias that even the partisan Salt Lake crowd applauded. In their home game against FC Goa, North-East United were also locked in a 1-1 draw despite having forged ahead earlier by a goal scored through a controversial penalty award. In the first game too, the home side had taken the early lead by a penalty award. At both venues, there were too many missed chances but crowd support for home teams was not lacking.
The first game between Atletico de Kolkata and Delhi Dynamos was played at Kolkata in the afternoon heat. ATK coach Antonio Habas had made one change in his line-up from the last game as Jakub Podany replaced suspended midfielder Borja Fernandez. But Delhi made three changes from their last game with Pavel Elias, Souvik Chakrabarti and Alessandro Del Piero coming in to replace Naoba Singh, Morten Skoubo and Mads Junker. The match began with a few early harmless exchanges but Delhi were the first to create an early chance, when the captain Del Piero had the ball. He showed his skills as he entered the ATK box but he was brought down by an objectionable tackle from Josemi. Just when a penalty for Delhi looked imminent, the referee booked Del Piero to the utter dismay of a handful of Delhi supporters at Salt Lake. In the 14th minute, it was ATK, who had an upper hand when Fikru skillfully fed a ball to Baljit Singh Sahni. Sahni, in turn, sent a lovely pass to Garcia but the attempt was foiled by the Delhi goalkeeper. Fikru had another chance in the 19th minute, when he collected Hans Mulder’s sordid back-pass and charged into the box. But Fikru’s shot was also cleared by Delhi’s goalkeeper. At half-hour mark, Jakob Podany played a bit of selfish football, when he claimed the ball from his own teammate Sahni and instead of feeding the ball to two ATK forwards near the penalty box, made a solo but vain scoring attempt. Delhi came close to scoring yet again, when Del Pireo passed the ball to Shylo Malswamtluanga but Shylo’s stinging shot bounced off the crossbar.
In the 49th minute, Fikru was charging inside the penalty box after receiving a through ball from Jofre Mateu but Delhi’s Wim Raymaekers tugged at Fikru’s shirt and brought him down. The referee promptly pointed to the spot and Jofre Mateu made no mistake in putting the ball into the net to make it 1-0 for ATK. Delhi got an equalizing opportunity in 54th minute but Hans Mulder’s shot fell off the target. Jofre Mateu made another attempt with Masih but his shot was nicely saved by the Delhi goalkeeper. Finally, in a moment of football brilliance, Delhi scored their first goal of the tournament. A cross from Shouvik was cleared by an ATK player but the ball came to Delhi’s defender Pavel Elias, whose full-bloodied volley from 25 yards flew to the top corner with the ATK goalkeeper having no chance of saving it. In the 89th minute, ATK were down to 10 men as Rakesh Masih was asked to leave the field after being yellow carded for the second time in 7 minutes. The match ended with a 1-1 draw.
In the other game at Guwahati, North-East United FC drew with FC Goa. The home team had the first real chance in the 6th minute, when Joan Capdevila produced a curling free-kick that had the Goa goalkeeper Jan Seda in trouble but somehow he saved it. In the 16th minute, a foul by Isaac Chansa on Pires earned him a yellow card. Then Andre Santos’ free-kick was spilled by NEUFC goalkeeper Rehnesh and Goa’s Gregory Arnolin pounced on the ball to shoot again. But his effort met only the crossbar. But the drama was not over since NEUFC’s Zodingliana Ralte indulged in some poor clearance and Arnolin had the ball once again. This time the FC Goa defender made no mistake and Goa took a 1-0 lead. The game was bitterly fought after the first goal as NEUFC tried their utmost for an equalizer. But their reward came in a controversial fashion in the 36th minute. In trying to clear a ball, Goa’s Debabrata Roy had only a light contact at Robin Gurung’s back but the referee took a serious view of the incident and awarded a penalty to NEUFC. Koke took the spot kick and restored parity for his team.
After the equalizer, both sides attacked one another with several goal-scoring chances, none of which could be converted. After halftime, North East began strongly with the combination of Koke and the Korean Dong-Hyun Do appearing to work as a threat at FC Goa’s goal. The Korean tested Seda’s ability with a shot but the Czech goalkeeper showed his prowess in making a great save. NEUFC got another close chance, when Kondwani Mtonga squared the ball from the right that only required a touch but Do’s sliding attempt couldn’t find the mark. After an hour’s play, Mtonga’s first time flick found Chansa close to the Goan goal but the Zambian star shot wide. The last opportunity for NEUFC came in the dying minutes as Do sent a nice feed to Chansa but Seda foiled the move. The home crowd was disappointed to see their team spill several chances in the second half as the match ended 1-1.
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