After ISL’s first away win by Chennaiyin FC against Goa on October 15th, Saurav Ganguly’s Atletico de Kolkata became the second team to register an away victory in the Indian Super League yesterday. In a match played at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati, Assam’s capital city, ATK overpowered North East United FC 2-0 on their home ground and logged their second consecutive win. It was an impressive performance from ATK despite being down to 10-men in the 84th minute. Ethiopian striker Fikru Teferra Lemessa scored his second goal for ATK in as many matches and later, the 2-0 score-line was completed by Czech Republic midfielder Jakub Podany
The game started with NEUFC playing two forwards Durga and Keene in front. After the customary exchange of goodwill and handshakes, Joan Capdevila won the toss and asked ATK captain to start the game. Cultures in Kolkata and Guwahati are similar with Assamese and Bengalis having nearly the same penchant for the game of football. Therefore the energy levels were high as the fans got behind the home side just as they did in the match against Kerala Blasters. Even before the start, the roar was deafening and that would certainly have pleased the organizers. In the first few minutes, both teams committed a series of fouls by avoidable physical contacts. ATK made a strong start with some promising moves and in the 14th minute, their marquee player Luis Garcia sent an aerial pass over NEUFC’s defense towards Fikru, who first received the ball on his chest and then struck powerfully to shake the net behind the goalkeeper. The early goal brought a stunning silence in the stadium. This was the second goal by Fikru in ISL after he had scored the tournament opener against Mumbai City FC on October 12. In the 35th minute, Northeast earned a corner but it proved to be a wasted opportunity. Until the halftime, North East did their utmost to find the equalizer but solid defense from ATK foiled all such attempts. The teams went to the break with ATK leading 1-0.
As the second half began, NEUFC made renewed attempts to draw the scores level. In the 47th minute Keene made a dash from the left flank and used his back heel to pass the ball to Chansa, who in turn, passed it back to Keene. But a Kolkata defender intercepted and cleared the ball for a side throw by NEUFC. More attempts came from the Guwahati side but ATK defense was up to it every time. For a long while, NEUFC managed to keep the ball in ATK’s half but were plainly unlucky to find the target. With about 20-odd minutes remaining, an off-side call against an NEUGC forward denied the Guwahati team another equalizer opportunity as they continued the waves of their attacks.
In the 84th minute, ATK’s Borja Fernandez expelled after he was shown his second yellow card of the match. Kolkata team was down to ten men. Regardless, NEUFC could not capitalize on the reduced strength of their opponents. Not only that; ATK put the final nail in the coffin, when Jakub Podany’s goal made it 2-0 for Kolkata. In their zeal to get the equalizer somehow, NEUFC committed too many men in front line and paid the penalty, when ATK found open space in the last minute of the match. In a smart counter-attack, an unmarked Podany invaded the NEUFC box and scored that opportunistic goal.
Kolkata have not conceded a goal in two matches and they top the tournament standings with 6 points. Their next game is against the Delhi Dynamos FC at home on Oct 19 while NEUFC take on FC Goa on the same day at Guwahati.