The 21st match in the Hero Indian Super League was played between teams, which occupy the two top slots in the points table. Chennaiyin FC hosted Atletico de Kolkata at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium and their encounter ended in a 1-1 draw. Kolkata have played five matches, won three of them and drawn two. Chennaiyin FC also have three victories but they have played only four matches with one loss. They seem so equally matched that both goals in Tuesday’s match came from penalties from either side. On the flip side, both teams collected a red card each and played with 10 men for a long time. Coming out of an injury lay-off, Kolkata captain Luis Garcia scored for his team while the tournament’s top scorer Elano Blumer did it for the home team. It was a game full of high drama and Chennaiyin FC should consider themselves lucky to leave the field with one point after playing with 10-men for most of the match and coming up with the equalizer from an injury time penalty award.
The match began with ATK going into the Chennai goal area in 4th minute, when Luis Garcia sent a clean pass to Jofre in the box. It was a great chance that ATK squandered in front of the goal-mouth. Chennai came up with a corner in the 10th minute and though Elano had found Bernard Mendy, the striker lost the ball to an ATK defender. For the next twenty minutes, both sides created chances but none of them could be converted. In the 26th minutes, ATK’s Jofre was yellow-carded and Chennai earned a free-kick. Elano was the man who took the shot but the ball sailed over the crossbar. In the 32nd minute, Chennai goalkeeper Shilton Paul made a cardinal error by falling on the feet of an ATK forward. He was promptly red-carded and Chennai were down to 10 men. The ensuing penalty was taken 2 minutes later since the teams had to wait for the substitute goalkeeper. Luis Garcia waited with the ball placed on the penalty spot and when the play resumed in the 35th minute, Garcia made no error in slotting the ball into the goal. The teams went off the field for the break with Kolkata leading 1-0.
One minute after the play began in the second half, Jofre earned his second yellow card and had to leave the field. Now both teams played with 10 men. ATK collected another yellow card, when Chennai’s Mendy was wrongly tackled by Josemi but Elano’s free-kick was played straight into the hands of Kolkata goalkeeper. ATK got another goal-scoring opportunity in the 65th minute, when Garcia sent a floater in the box but Bernard Mendy reached their first and cleared the ball away. ATK brought in Sanju Pradhan in place of Mohammed Rafi at this time to fortify the attack. But the move didn’t pay off. In the 70th minute, Materazzi fed a superb ball to Elano, who dashed towards the ATK box. Kolkata defenders, however, dispossessed Elano. Time was running out for Chennaiyin FC and all their attempts on ATK goal met with failures. At the end of 90 minutes, 4 minutes were added as injury time. As luck would have it, ATK’s Kingshuk Debnath brought down John Mendonza in the box and referee pointed to the spot to the utter disappointment of ATK. The penalty for Chennai was taken by Elano, who sent the ball in with aplomb to get the Nehru stadium crowd on their feet.
It was evenly matched game highlighted by two red cards and two penalties. Elano Blumer won the Moment of the Match award for a perfectly taken penalty kick. The fittest player award was bagged by Bernard Mendy while Khabra was chosen for the award of the Emerging Player of the Match. But the coveted Hero of the Match award was rightfully claimed by veteran Luis Garcia.
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