All of sudden, the goals have dried up in the Hero Indian Super League. You play 90 minutes, create a host of opportunities and when the regulation time ends, you walk away with a score sheet that shows a drawn game. The common reason for all this is the poor finishing by the forward line players. The other reasons are good defense and solid goalkeeping. From the 25th match of the Hero ISL on November 8 until 14th November’s 31st match at Salt Lake Stadium Kolkata, only one match has brought the result. It happened on November 13, when Delhi were mauled 4-1 on their home ground by FC Goa. Of the other six matches, four have ended in goalless draws, and Chennaiyin FC were involved in three drawn games, including yesterday’s away game at Kolkata. They also drew 2-2 with North east United on November 8; and 1-1 with Pune City FC at Pune. Regardless, Chennai now share 13 points with table toppers Kolkata, who have superior goal-difference. The two top teams played out 90 minutes yesterday at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, where more than 46000 thousand people came to see the goalless encounter. It turned out to be fast-paced game from start to finish, full of opportunities but the defense lines of both sides prevented clear cut chances.
The match was attended by Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan and his son Abhisek, who is the Chennnaiyin FC owner. They were joined by the beautiful Deepika Padukone in the high intensity match, which started with attacks and counter attack from the very beginning. Elano Blumer released Mendoza in the 8th minute, who finally passed the ball for Balwant. But Balwant was dispossessed by an ATK defender. For the next few minutes the ball kept moving in the midfield. In the 15th minute, Chennai’s Dhana managed to send a throw directly inside the 6-yard box from the left flank but ATK goalkeeper Roy came out to punch the ball away. For a while, Chennai kept the play near the ATK goal area but no serious threats could accrue. In the 22nd minute, ATK captain Garcia made a very optimistic attempt. He rushed his shot from well out of 20 yard distance and sent it wide. In the 25th minute, Chennai moved up inside the Kolkata half from the right side with Khabra having the ball on the right. The move couldn’t succeed because of lack of coordination. At the half-hour mark, the teams were still not able to launch any serious attack on one another as strong defense on either side mostly denied such odd moves. Chennayin FC’s Dane got a yellow card for purposely using his hands for blocking the ball. In a weird development floodlights on one side lost the power-feed and became dark and the referee stopped the game. It took nearly 11 minutes for the full restoration of the lights. The match resumed from the 37th minute. Chennai got a great chance, when a cross coming from right almost found Elano but ATK’s Subhasish managed to clear the ball. Four minutes later, Chennai got a free-kick but Elano messed up the opportunity. The teams went out for the break with the halftime score reading 0-0.
As the second half began, Fikru and Marco Materazzi went into a tussle to win a floater. Though Materazzi got the ball, Fikru didn’t give in and committed a foul. As the match moved further on, ATK applied pressure and Jofre got the ball. Just as he tried moving into the box, a Chennai defender cleared it for a corner to ATK. But it was a wasted effort in the end. In another good move for Chennai, Elano sent a good through ball to Balwant but ATK goalkeeper foiled the attempt. Then Kolkata came up with a counter and a free kick from Garcia struck the bar. On another occasion, Garcia’s header was saved by Bracigliano. For several minutes, ATK occupied the Chennai goal area but none of the chances could be converted to the goals. After a few more enthusiastic raids by ATK, the match ended goalless. For their next match, ATK will host NorthEast United FC on November 18 while Chennai will play FC Pune City at Chennai on November 19.