The first leg of the Semi-Finals ends in disappointment for ATK
12th December 2015
Venue: Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium, Pune.
ATK Starting XI: Amrinder Singh(GK), Rino Anto, Arnab Mondal, Jose Luis Espinosa Arroyo (Tiri), Augustin Fernandes, Borja Fernandez (C), Oftense Nato, Jaime Gavilan Martinez, Sameehg Doutie, Arata Izumi, Iain Hume.
Chennaiyin FC Starting XI: Edel Bete(GK), Khabra, Mailson, Mendy (C), Dhana, Thoi Singh, Blasi, Mundampara, Bruno Pelissari, Stiven Mendoza, Jeje.
After the tightly-contested league matches, the semi-finals were always expected to be a treat to watch with the best teams fighting it out in the middle to embark on the road to the finals. Chennaiyin FC was not able to play at Home in Chennai due to the devastation caused by the Chennai floods. Hence, Pune was the new stadium selected to hold the first leg.
Chennai came into the match with a superb run of having won four matches at a trot and having the highest scorer of this season leading their attack - Stiven Mendoza. ATK on the other hand were also in crisp form, having the advantage of never being defeated by Chennai in the ISL. Hence, the match was sure to be high on intensity.
Antonio Habas started the first leg with the tried and tested formula of playing in the 4-2-3-1 position with his best players finding space in the middle. Iain Hume led the attack with Doutie and Arata on either flank and supported from behind by Gavilan. The midfield saw the Captain holding ground alongside Oftense Nato. The defense saw the stalwarts Arnab, Tiri, Augustina nd Rino Anto holding fort along with Amrinder Singh.
The match started on even ground. Chennai started the attack with aiming for the net in the second minute, but the double threat posed by Materazzi's team was defended well by the ATK defense. The first free kick of the match was awarded to ATK for a handball in the 6th minute and the next in the 9th, but Gavilan's shots could not be converted in by the others inside the box.
The moment of much worry emerged in the 12th minute, as Borja Fernandez went down in the middle of the pitch due to a hamstring pull. He looked quite in pain and the fans were scared that he may face Postiga's fate. On the other half, even Augusting Fernades fell down injured due to a bad twist on his right ankle. The physio and medical team were called and he was taken out for treatment. However, after a while, both of them resumed play though the captain still looked to be at unease.
The next 15 minutes saw both the teams coming close to scoring but being thwarted by wonderful saves from the keepers or good defending from the defenders.
However, the 39th minute saw the first solid action of the match as Chennai took the lead from a Bruno Pelissari free kick. A foul resulted in a Chennai free kick which Pelissari came forward to take. He made no mistake and sealed the deal with a bullet of a shot as the ball sailed past Amrinder's outstretched hands to the bottom left corner in a blink of the eye from the free kick spot. It is surely one of the best goals ISL has seen this season.
In the 42nd minute, with Borja Fernandez not being able to continue any further due to his injury, Habas bought in Dejan Lekic as his substitution. He made his presence felt and came quite close to score only to find Chennai's defender head the ball away. Even Mendoza came forward to hit a second but Amrinder ran in to prevent it with a brilliant save. Four minutes of extra time was added to the clock, but there were no further action with Chennai finishing with an advantage.
Chennaiyin FC 1:1 ATK
First Half stats: Attack Index: CFC 70%:30% ATK
ATK started the second half looking dangerous as within two minutes Dejan Lekic almost scored a perfect shot at the bottom left of the net, but missed it by mere inches. In the 53rd minute, Amrinder again came forward to block a sure shot at goal with a spectacular save.
The 57th minute, however, saw Chennai capitalizing on ATK's defensive lapse and scoring the second goal of the match. Mendoza came in with the ball from the left side of the field and Amrinder again ran to collect the ball outside the box, but was beaten. Mendoza went past him into the box and passed the ball to Jeje. He made no mistake and sent the ball home from close range, as the ATK defense stood defeated.
After that, ATK lost a bit of steam in the middle and Chennai came near to score another only to be thwarted by good defending from the ATK boys. The attacking index now had a very even look with 55% on behalf of Chennai and 45% for ATK. To strengthen the attack, Habas brought in Baljit Sahni in the place of Sameehg Doutie.
However, the 69th minute saw major disappointment for the First Champions, as Chennai netted their third of the day. Jeje perfectly chipped the ball above the heads of the ATK defense and found Mendoza in the open. He looked up and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom left corner of the net as Amrinder stood rooted to his spot.
The 76th minute saw a great chance for ATK but Lekic failed to convert a great pass from Izumi, two times in a row, as his shot got deflected by Chennai. In the 78th minute, the hero of the match Stiven Mendoza went down injured due to a hamstring pull and went out on a stretcher after being substituted.
ATK gave in their all in the last minutes of the game but could not find a happy ending as Chennai defended beautifully. They even counter-attacked precisely and the ATK defense had to be in their best shoes to stop them from scoring a fourth. Five minutes of extra time was added to the final half of play, but the match ended in disappointment for the defending champions.
FT Scoreline: Chennaiyin FC 3:0 Atletico de Kolkata
Ball possession: ATK 51%: 49% CFC
Total Yellow cards: 1 (ATK 0, CFC 1)
Total fouls committed: 39 (ATK 14, CFC 25)
In the after match Awards, ATK bagged the following award:
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Iain Hume
Though the first leg did not go ATK's way, with the second leg at home in front of the passionate fans in the Salt Lake Stadium, ATK will surely be looking in for the kill. The dream of reaching the finals has not yet ebbed in the hearts of each and every FanATK, and we will surely be looking for a huge turnaround from our fantastic team. The second leg is going to take place on the 16th of December.
Till then, keep supporting Your Team Your Dream!