ATK begin their ISL title defence in style; beat Chennaiyin FC 3-2
3rd October 2015
Postiga scores a brace and Valdo scores the 3rd
ATK Starting line-up: Amrinder (GK), Arnab, Rino Anto, Augustin Fernandes, Javi Lara, Jaime Gavilan, Borja Fernandez (C), Ofentse Nato, Iain Hume, Baljit Sahni, Helder Postiga.
Chennaiyin FC: Edel Apoula (GK), Lalhmangaihsanga Sena Ralte, Abhishek, Mailson, Alessandro Potenza, Thoi Singh, Elano (C), Harmanjot Khabra, Raphael Augusto, Fikru, Jeje.
After a glittering ceremony, which included performances by Bollywood stars Alia Bhatt and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, to mark the start of Hero ISL 2, the highly anticipated match between Atletico de Kolkata and Chennaiyin FC got underway right after maestro AR Rahman's rendition of the National Anthem, accompanied by a bunch of smiling deaf children. ATK lined up with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Jaime Gavilan and Borja Fernandez in front of the back four, like we'd seen in their practise match against Aryan FC in Kolkata last week. Iain Hume was positioned just behind striker Helder Postiga with Baljit Sahni and Javi Lara playing on either flank.
Chennaiyin FC Head Coach Marco Materazzi lined up his wards in a 4-4-2 diamond formation with Elano playing behind the two strikers and Raphael Augusto playing as the holding midfielder. After being red-carded in the second leg of last season;s Hero ISL semi-final, he had to watch his boys from the stands today.
The match begun after ATK captain Borja gave the right call at the toss and selected the side. Atletico de Kolkata attacked from left to right, donning their famous red and white! 38 seconds into the match and Chennaiyin FC had won themselves a corner, ISL 2;s first! It was taken by their captain and corner/penalty specialist Brazilian wizard Elano Blumer. Jeje's Jeje leaped the highest in the box but his header was off target! Play had only just resumed and players of both teams were starting to get into the rhythm when a stray dog ran onto the pitch in the 2nd minute! What followed was a bit of commotion, a little interruption, but plenty of giggles and laughs on and off the pitch. Evidently, everybody wanted to be a part of this high-octane encounter. Even the dog!
By the time play resumed, it was almost the 3rd minute. ATK's Spanish import Javi Lara continued the form that he;s been in through the pre-season. He was super skillful in the middle and started making inroads into the Chennaiyin defence from very early on! In a match that saw a flurry of yellow cards, the first was awarded to Chennaiyin's Harmanjot Khabra in the 6th minute for using his arm to block a free kick taken by Lara. The Spaniard got another chance but his effort, sadly, was way over the post. By the 10th minute, ATK's marquee signing Portuguese star Helder Postiga had started showing his goods, and announcing his arrival in the ISL! During a particularly impressive display, he juggled the ball a few times before making some space although, his last touch was a bit heavy. Nevertheless, the Portugese showed just how essential he is going to be in AT's scheme of things going forward!
Although ATK enjoyed the lion;s share of the ball possession in the first 25 minutes, there were a few brief moments of spirited attack from Chennaiyin FC in the form of Elano and Fikru. In the 11th minute, Fikru twisted and turned in a way that reminded ATK fans why we'd loved him so much last season! He was freed on the left, and beating the lone ATK defender standing in his way, he managed to make space for a shot. He whipped the ball into the far post but there was no blue shirt there to head it in.
13th minute GOAL from Postiga and ATK went up 1-0. Captain Borja sent in a terrific cross from the deep and Chennaiyin keeper Edel Apoula came up to collect it. Unfortunately for him he dropped the ball right into Postiga's path! The Portugese had an open goal in front of him and put it in with ease. Postiga acknowledged the crowd with a Namaste. Clearly, hes picking up Indian habits. Isn't that adorable, FanATKs? ?
Khabra, playing dangerously through the first half, brought Postiga down with a dangerous maneuver right after. Chennaiyin stepped on the gas and started playing much more attacking football right after. After shooting the ball off target in the 16th minute, Fikru again made a great run in the 22nd minute but was stopped by the famed ATK defence! Khabra followed next in the 24th minute with a weak shot at our goal that was easily stopped by our goalie Amrinder Singh.
Our eyes were focussed keenly on our team and our boys obviously, but we must admit that Elano displayed flashes of sheer brilliance and it would be unfair on our part if we don't appreciate his great talent. We caught him twisting in almost non-existent space in our half and take a shot that missed out goal by just a whisker. We doff our hat to you, Elano! In a moment of beautiful camaraderie and sportsmanship, Chennaiyin's Fikru and our captain Borja embraced each other smilingly after the latter unintentionally tripped the former in the 30th minute. Such a lovely sight!
Chennaiyin FC equalized in the 31st minute when JEJE equalizes in the 31st minute when the young Indian latched onto the ball and had an open goal in front of him. Fikru and Amrinder went for the ball but the striker got there first and he shot it straight at the keeper. The ball deflected off Amrinder and fell to Jeje, who just had to put it into the back of the net. Unlucky for ATK! The 36th minute saw our spirited goalie Amrinder run out almost halfway to thwart a dangerous looking counter attack from Chennaiyin FC. While in the first 15 minutes, we had greater ball possession and were attacking more, Chennaiyin slowly crept back into the game, mainly thanks to Elano's skillful display.
Baljit yellow carded unfairly in the 39th minute. The referring was poor throughout the match, and ATK players were mostly at the receiving end. 40th minute Elano makes a crazy inroad through the left flank, beating Javi Lara on two occasions but finally finding ATK's defensive wall too much to handle! Elano comes crashing down in the 44th minute and a free kick is awarded to Chennayin. 27 yards out only, a piece of cake for specialist Elano to get the ball up and over the wall. But, the Brazilain was unable to do this time what he is famous for He went for goal but it was blocked by our unshakeable defence!
In 3 minutes of added time before half-time Chennaiyin's Brazilian import Mailson Alves tried to head a ball in but it was wide of the net.
Atletico de Kolkata 1
The second half saw Bernard Mendy comes in place of Mailson Alves for Chennaiyin. Clearly, they were in a mood to attack and wanted a fresh pair of legs. The 49th minute saw a chance for ATK. Lara came in with a cross, who had run into the box, up from left back. He laid it on for Hume who, unfortunately, fired the ball over. The next few minutes saw some crazy skills on display courtesy of Lara. He tormented the Chennaiyin defence with some very clever passes, and kept marauding forward at every open invite! There was a mouthwatering one-two with Hume in the 53rd minute. Sadly, his attempt on goal was blocked out.
Chennaiyin's reckless game got them yet another yellow card in the 59th minute, this time to Sena Ralte. Left winger Jaime Gavilan took a very good shot at the goal that curled just wide of the net, and left ATK Head Coach Antonio Habas tsk-tsking! It really was THAT close! 63rd min Stiven Mendoza came in for Fikru Teferra amidst loud cheers. Home support on point, machi! But, sadly, he could do nothing to change the scoreline 'cause ATK's game was on fleek!
Silent killer Postiga struck again in the 70th minute to put ATK up 2-1, but was brought down by a hamstring pull. ATK by now was in no mood to slow down, and in keeping with the tempo, Coach Habas sent in Cape Verdean winger Valdo in place of the injured Postiga in the 73rd minute. His fresh legs and quick pace suddenly upped the tempo of the match. It came as no surprise to us when he rose, literally, to the occasion to score the 3rd goal for ATK in the 76th minute! Hume was freed on the left by Lara. He raced towards the byline and put in an inch perfect cross. Valdo rose the highest at the farpost and headed it into the right corner of the net. Sheer beauty! We could've gone up 4-1 in the 79th minute when we were awarded a penalty for Mendy's handball to stop Baljit from charging down, but Javi Lara's spot kick was stopped by Edel's firm hand.
Chennaiyin, though, kept trying to come back by adding more teeth into their attack. Balwant Singh replaced the reckless Sena Ralte in the 82nd minute. The very next minute Javi took another shot from Chennai's right flank, but couThe next few minutes saw a spate of bad referring calls against Atletico. Nato was wrongly yellow carded, but sadly for Chennaiyin fans, their hero Elano's free-kick missed the net yet again. The 86th minute saw striker Sushil Kumar Singh come in place of Baljit for ATK. Chennaiyin were, by now, desperately trying to scramble in a goal somehow! In a shocking display of very poor referring, a penalty was awarded to Chennayin in the 88th minute. Television repeats, from every possible angle, showed that our defender Arnab Mondal had used his chest to stop the ball and it was NOT A HANDBALL! Elano, finally, scored. He must've had to summon all his years of experience to net that ball into the left corner! Huh.ldn't convert.
But, even that wasn't enough to stop the defending champions from sealing the match.
Balwant of Chennaiyin was yellow carded during added time (5'). Not surprising given how desperate Chennaiyin were to level the score. Midfielder Arata Izumi was brought in in the 95th minute in place of Javi, but by then all was but over for Chennaiyin FC!
ATK had won their first match last season against Mumbai City FC by scoring 3 goals, and we've now repeated the feat this season. Perhaps, a sign of things to come? A much deserved win for us. A brace for Marquee player Helder Postiga while Valdo added the third. The boys are off to Goa tomorrow morning, and they will go into their match against FC Goa on Oct 7 with a lot of confidence!
That was some Fatafati Football from the ATK boys, and this is only the start! Go ATK!
Atletico de Kolkata 3 (Postiga 13', 17', Valdo 76')
Chennaiyin FC 2x (Jeje 31', Elano (p) 89')