And, then it rained goals for ATK!
1st November 2015
Atletico de Kolkata Playing XI: Amrinder Sandhu (GK), Denzil Franco, Augustin Fernandes, Tiri, Syed Rahim Nabi, Ofentse Nato, Borja Fernandez (C), Sheikh Jewel Raja, Jaime Gavilan, Sameehg Doutie, Iain Hume
Mumbai City FC Playing XI: Subrata Paul (GK), Ashutosh, Pavel Cmovs, Darren O'Dea, Lalchhuanmawia Fanai, Frantz Bertin, Juan Aguilera, Singam Subash, Sunil Chhetri, Sony Norde, Nicolas Anelka (C)
"One thing about championship teams is that they're resilient. No matter what is thrown at them, no matter how deep the hole, they find a way to bounce back and overcome adversity"
Nick Saban, celebrated American Football coach.
We couldn't agree with him more. Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) went into the match with the odds stacked heavily against them. Mumbai City FC (MCFC) had won three matches on the trot while the visitors had lost their last three games. Football pundits unanimously announced across television channels that MCFC were the obvious favourites, and ATK would have to play out of their skin to snatch a victory from the home team. Well, play they did, and how!
ATK were up against an in-form attack trio of Anelka, Chhetri, and Norde. Indian captain Chhetri, ISL's most expensive Indian player, and Haitian import, winner of the I-league with Mohun Bagan, Norde have been red hot for MCFC this season. Literally, unstoppable. And, ATK have been guilty of conceding last-minute goals and being unable to keep clean sheets. It was going to be an uphill task for our defence to hold back MCFC's two-pronged attack. But, since when have champions worried about challenges? A champion is a true champion when he thinks like one even when he's down. And, he ultimately rises from the ashes like the proverbial Phoenix. We don't mean to sound dramatic, but hey, it's rather fun to prove all the cynics wrong, right?
It was an enthralling match, to say the least. Both teams played some terrific attacking football. But, there can only be one winner, and tonight was our turn. Led by the brilliant Iain Hume (3 goals) from the front, it was ATK all the way across the DY Patil pitch in Navi Mumbai. Those of you who missed the match, here's a recap of what went down!
Humey showed us what he was in the mood for right at the start of the match. He twisted and turned in the left wing to get past 3 defenders right in the 3rd minute. The sign was ominous. He looked like he wanted to go for the kill tonight. Amrinder continued his fine form, and showed his chops in the 9th minute when Juan Aguilera scooped the ball over our defense to free the Anelka. For a moment it seemed that the Frenchman we've all grown up idolizing had an easy one-on-one opportunity. However, Amrinder anticipated the shot really well, was quick to get off his line and block the angle. In the ensuing unintentional tussle, Anelka ended up catching Amrinder with his studs. The latter went down in pain but the hero that he is, he was back on his feet in no time!
The attack index was 71%-29% in the home team's favour at this point, but once could understand what our boys were trying to do. They weren't focusing on just possessing the ball for longer. They were looking at finding gaps and creating chances! Sameehg Doutie was terrific on the flank all night, and he could've been through on goal in the 21st minute had it not been for some terrific defensive tackle by MCFC's Ashutosh! The next few minutes saw a good looking free kick from Gavilan go to waste and a shot at goal from Borja fly wide. ATK were looking for a breakthrough, and it came to them in the 33rd minute in the form of a terrific volley from star forward Iain Hume. Humey has been in fabulous form all season with 3 assists out of the 6 goals that ATK had scored till tonight's match. But, he'd been unlucky to not have managed to score so far. But, tonight was going to be his night. Humey turned 32 couple of days back, and the celebrations were rather low-key. Who was to know that he was saving all the fireworks for tonight?! And, boy aren't we glad he lit them up at just the right time! It was a superb ball over the defenders from Gavilan and the Canadian took it the first time with brilliant technique to volley it past Subrata Paul! Such a spectacular touch!
Just before half-time, MCFC's attacking player Singam Subhash found himself back in their own box making a rather unnecessary and extremely rash tackle to bring Gavilan down. The referee wasted no time in awarding a penalty to ATK, and Humey stepped up to tale the spot kick. He, cool as a cucumber, slotted the ball into the bottom left corner as Paul dived the other way. ATK now led 2-1. Hume was on a hattrick!
HALF-TIME (45' + 3')
Atletico de Kolkata 2 (Iain Hume 33' 45'P)
Mumbai City FC 0
MCFC made 3 substitutions at the start of the second-half. Clearly, Hume's brace had rattled them, and they were starting to rethink their strategy. But, things didn't start too well for them as the match's first yellow card was shown to their defender Ashutosh, who is now going to miss his team's next match. Amrinder was kept busy for the next few minutes as MCFC mounted an attack on ATK's goal- there were consecutive shots fired by Anelka, Pavel Cmovs, and Fred Piquionne. But, Amrinder has been in fine form through the season, and he was in no mood to let anything through!
Hume had a chance to score his third of the match, and this season, in the 64th minute when Borja puts him through on goal with a perfectly weighted through ball. Humey looked good as he took it on his stride and struck the ball sweetly. To his dismay, the crossbar denied him, perhaps because he had put in a little too much on it. Or, maybe, because the night wasn't quite over yet!
MCFC were pressing for goals, and led the attack index at this point with a whopping 94% share of the ball possession. But, ATK still retained their 2 goal lead, and were hunting for more! Coach Habas made two substitutions in 5 minutes- Javi Lara, who was coming off an injury, came on for Gavilan, and Rino Anto in place of Syed Rahim Nabi. Amrinder saved yet another attempt at goal in the 71st minute. This time it was Chhetri's shot. But, the ball was loose and Tunisian Selim Benachour swooped down on it and struck it from the 6-yard box. There wasn't anything that Amrinder could really have done!
MCFC fans saw a glimmer of hope, and were cheering their team on wildly. But, ATK were in no mood to relent. Defender Augustin Fernandes, who's had a fantastic tournament so far, scored against the run of play in the 76th minute! The right back had just the keeper to beat after Sameehg Doutie, who shone bright throughout the match, put him through on goal. Augustin kept his composure to slot it past the keeper. It was a clean, copybook goal. Lovely to watch! ATK now led 3-1.
Didn't we tell you that Hume perhaps wasn't quite done for the night? He was out celebrating his birthday with his mates, and he got to have his cake and eat it too! He scored a much-deserved hattrick in the 81st minute, tapping the ball past Subrata Paul. Once again Doutie (what a night he had!) created the goal with a good cross from the left flank. The scoreline now read 4-1. With less than 10 minutes to go, it was pretty obvious that MCFC had got owned and how!
4 minutes were added on. Arnab Mondal came in for Jewel Raja to avoid any last minute hara-kiri. Chhetri came down in our box during this time, and MCFC claimed a penalty. But, the referee had had a good look and asked the teams to play on.
Atletico de Kolkata 4(Iain Hume 33' 45'P 82', Augustin Fernandes 76')
Mumbai City FC 1 (Selim Benachour 71')
Hero of The Match: Iain Hume
Club Award: ATK
Transformer of The Match: Jaime Gavilan
Swift Moment of the Match: Augustin Fernandes
Emerging Player of The Match: Amrinder Singh Sandhu
What a good day in office for our boys! It rained goals and awards for us. They say "Champions believe in themselves even when others don't". We think they were talking about us! Being a champion is an attitude, and we've got oodles of it, haven't we? May the odds be forever in our favour!
See you all on the 7th at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, as ATK take on North East United FC. Be there to support your team your dream!