ISL ATKISLIn the Hero Indian Super League, match nos. 34 and 35 were played over the last two days in Mumbai and Kolkata. While Mumbai played their third consecutive goalless draw, Kolkata managed to score a solitary second-half goal through a Luis Garcia header. Despite a fluid display by Goa, they could not score against the hosts on November 17. Next day, Atletico de Kolkata scored their first victory after they had beaten FC Goa in an away game on October 23. In the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, the hosts held several chances but they lost the steam in front of the goal every time. Goa also played well but failed to convert some close chances. Even at Kolkata, the first half was an uneventfully drab affair and the game came alive only after Garcia produced that header in the 51st minute. NorthEast United also came close to scoring but failed to convert their chances. In the Mumbai-Goa match, occasional sparks of brilliance came from Robert Pires, Andre Santos, Andre Moritz, and Lalrindika Ralte. In Kolkata, Garcia, Fikru and Durga Boro made the game lively to some extent.

As the match began in Mumbai, the first few minutes saw both sides making promising attacks on each other’s goals. It was irritating to see that neither side could hold on to their possessions for long, despite spirited display by both sides. After Mumbai’s star player Nicholas Anelka shot wide, the first real chance went Goa’s way, when Mandar Rao Desai took a close shot that went over the crossbar. For Mumbai, Anelka kept creating opportunities in the midfield and Andre Moritz and Jan Stohanzl came with fine chances. However, Subhash Singh was found wanting when he got nice feeds from Moritz or Stohanzl. After another Anelka miss, Mumbai got a corner in the 12th minute, but Pavel Cmovs shot wide with his left foot. In the 20th minute, Stohanzl single-handedly broke into a brilliant run towards Goa’s goal from the right but his pass was intercepted by a Goa defender. Mumbai had another great chance in the 42nd minute, when Moritz was able to find Lalrindika Ralte in front of the goal. But Ralte’s shot was nicely stopped by the Goa goalkeeper Jan Seda. The teams went for the break at 0-0.

In the second half, the midfield battle continued as Goa’s Robert Pires and Andre Santos combined well and created close opportunities. For Mumbai, Stohanzl and Moritz did the same. In the 70th minute, Goa missed a big chance, when Santos’ free-kick rebounded after hitting the pole but after making a mess with the save, Mumbai keeper was able to collect it. Seven minutes from close, Moritz unleashed a powerful long-range shot that beat the Goa goalkeeper but it came off the crossbar to Mumbai’s bad luck. Two minutes later, Goa also got a golden chance, when Ozbey’s fine effort was clearly missed by Subrata Paul but the ball struck the woodwork. Despite 4 minutes injury-time being added to regulation time, the match ended goalless. Mumbai’s next match is a home game against Chennaiyin FC on November 23, while Goa will host FC Pune City on November 22.

At Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium, ATK began with dominating the visitors in the first half but the play was confined to the midfield in the initial minutes. In the 20th minute Garcia tried a long-range shot at the goal but the efforts went in vain. By this time, ATK were able to keep the ball for longer time but with Fikru tightly marked by NEUFC, Kolkata lost the ball, whenever it was hit in Fikru’s direction. One minute before the halftime, ATK got a free kick and Jofre’s hit came to Garcia, whose shot was easily saved by Rehenesh.

After the goalless halftime, ATK stepped up efforts in the second session and these efforts paid off in the 51st minute. Fikru had stolen the ball in midfield and he released the ball to Jofre, who ran all the way before sending a delectable cross for Garcia. The ATK star produced a superb header to where Rehenesh could not reach and Kolkata went into the lead. From this point onwards, the game became fast-paced. The hosts mounted the pressure in a bid to score their second goal. But NEUFC also came up with some counter-attacks. With 5 minutes remaining, NEUFC got a free-kick. Despite a promising attempt, the equalizer didn’t come and the match ended 1-0 in ATK’s favor.

Kolkata coach was highly relieved as his side collected three points and remained on top. ATK will play an away game against Kerala Blasters in Kochi on November 21 while NorthEast United will host Delhi Dynamos FC on November 24.