One more goalless draw coming in the 47th match of the Hero Indian Super League between hosts Delhi Dynamos and Atletico de Kolkata did not favor any of the two teams. On the contrary, the result made the race for the semi-final spot even more difficult. For Delhi the drawn game would mean that they can at best reach 20 points, if they could win their remaining two matches. With Chennaiyin FC sitting pretty with 22 points, FC Goa and ATK tied at 18 and Kerala Blaster placed fourth with 15, DD’s chances have become marginal. But the point-system in ISL has been devised in such a way that every team still remains a contender for the top four spots, even if that premise is supposedly based on theoretical considerations. While DD had some bad matches early in the tournament, ATK had led the points’ table for almost a month until their game took a nose dive. From the tournament favorites, ATK have been reduced to a team that is endangered by elimination from the knock-out phase if other teams do well and the Kolkata outfit fails to win now. Quite clearly, the Kolkata team looks like having lost the rhythm, while others like FC Goa and Kerala Blasters have made good progress in the last couple of weeks.
At Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Tuesday’s match had a slow start but Delhi had a higher percentage of ball possession. In the 11th minute, Mads Junker had a good ball near the box but he was dispossessed. In the 17th minute, Francis Fernandes was able to find Mads Junker again inside the box and though Junker’s shot was blocked. Though the ball fell in the path of Souvik Chakraborty, the Delhi striker’s shot was cleared by the goalkeeper. In the 23rd minute, ATK got a corner, which was taken by Podany and though the Delhi goalkeeper Kristof Van Hout came off his line, he failed to catch the ball clearly and Kolkata missed another goal-scoring opportunity, when Rakesh Masih scooped the ball skywards. After attacks and counter attacks, the uneventful first half came to an end.
In the second half, Delhi brought in Shylo Malsawmtluanga in place of Souvik. The game resumed with Delhi going into attack early and had a couple of good chances. In the 52nd minute, a pass from Gustavo dos Santos was wasted by Mads Junker, who played it straight into the hands of the ATK goalkeeper. On another occasion, Hans Mulder took a nice free-kick but the ATK goalkeeper made another good save by moving off his line. ATK also attacked the Delhi goal but could not find the target. ATK made a change in the 75th minute by replacing Podany with Jofre but the move did not make any change in the ongoing proceedings. With 10 minutes remaining, Anwar Ali conceded a free-kick on the left flank but Borja’s high ball from Jofre’s cross was nicely held by the Delhi goalkeeper. Meanwhile, in closing minutes, Delhi Dynamos also pressed in to break the deadlock but ATK foiled Mads Junker, when he was about to shoot from dos Santos’ cross. After these few opportunities, chances for both teams dried up and the match finished without any goals being scored.
Delhi Dynamos were disappointed that their two-match winning streak had come to an end and they continue to lie at the fifth spot in the league table. ATK have also continued with their poor performances in the away games and they still lie at the third spot sharing the same number of 18 points with FC Goa, who occupy the second spot on superior goal difference. Delhi can now look forward to qualification when they play an away game with Pune City FC on December 6. Atletico de Kolkata also travel to Mumbai on December 7 to play against Mumbai City FC on December 7. If ATK can defeat Mumbai, that will confirm their semifinal spot.