ATK win their first away match against a resurgent Kerala side
5th October 2016
Venue: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi
Kerala Blasters Starting XI: Stack(GK), P. Chaudhari, Hengbart(C), Sandesh Jhingan, Mehtab Hossain, Ndoye, F. Chaudary, Currais, Rafique, Nazon, German.
ATK Starting XI: Debjit Majumder(GK), Prabir Das, Jose Luis Espinosa Arroyo (Tiri), Arnab Mondal, Pritam Kotal, Javi Lara, Jewel Raja, Borja Fernandez (C), Sameehg Doutie, Iain Hume, Helder Postiga.
Both ATK and Kerala Blasters boast of having the most passionate fans worldwide and a Kerala Blasters and Atletico de Kolkata clash had always been a match to savour for the football fans.
This was ATK’s first away match of this edition and after drawing against Chennaiyin FC in the opening home match, the fans were extremely excited to see Postiga, Hume, Lara and Doutie back in action. Kerala Blasters on the other hand, had lost their first match against the upbeat Northeast United and was looking forward to pull in the home support.
Our Head coach, Jose Molina, fielded almost the same team but with two changes in the 4-2-3-1 combination. Prabir Das started in the place of Robert Lalthlamuana and Jewel Raja replaced Bikramjit Singh in the midfield. Postiga and Hume was aided in the attack by Doutie and Javi Lara while Borja Fernandez headed the midfield prowess. The defence included Tiri, Arnab Mondal and Pritam Kotal, who showed class in the first match with Debjit Majumder guarding the ATK fortress.
The match started with a flurry of attempts to break the opponent’s defense by ATK’s attacking four. Borja tried to put early pressure with an attempt at goal from distance in the 3rd minute while Hume came forward with a brilliant pass to Postiga inside the box in the 4th minute. However, both the shots were deflected away.
However, disaster struck in the 7th minute as Postiga went down in the middle of the pitch holding his side due to a collision suffered earlier. He was taken out for medical assistance and joined back in a short while. In the meanwhile, Kerala had started making inroads into their opponents half but ATK held firm. However, Postiga had to be substituted in the 16th minute when he could not continue any further due to the surging pain.
As soon as Juan Belencoso replaced Postiga, Javi Lara set him for an easy goal from a beautiful pass but he missed the cue. Even Hume suffered an uneasy collision and seemed in quite some pain before regaining ground again. Even though Kerala did put pressure on ATK at regular intervals thanks to the brilliance of German; Doutie, Lara and Hume gave Kerala moments of tension throughout.
It was a neck to neck fight between the teams with the ball travelling from one end to the other in seconds. Kerala came very close to score when German’s long shot at goal missed the mark by inches. However, ATK continued to press forward with Borja trying to take the Kerala keeper off guard by his shot from the half line and Hume, Doutie and Lara playing a steady game full of assists and crosses.
Two minutes was added to the clock and a dramatic and high octane 45 minutes of play came to an end. The scoreline read:
Kerala Blasters 0:0 Atletico de Kolkata
First Half stats:
Possession: KER 45%:55% ATK
Attacking Index: KER 67%:33% ATK
Early into the second half, ATK gave away a free kick to Kerala by fouling German but Debjit Majumder slid across the ground to ensure German does not get a touch on the ball. The first chance of the half opened up in the 49th minute when Doutie sent in an exquisite cross for Belencoso to head home, but he headed it wide.
The crowning moment of the match came in the 53rd minute, through the brilliance of Javi Lara. With no one in the vicinity to pass to, Lara took an aim at goal from way outside the penalty box. His shot deflected off Sandesh Jhinghan to lodge itself at the bottom left corner of the goal while the goalkeeper stood rooted to his spot. This marked Javi Lara’s first goal of the season and ATK’s third goal overall.
The first 20 minutes into the second half was a complete ATK show as they continue to put pressure on Kerala. Such was the dominance that by the 65th minute, the attacking index read 91% in the favour of ATK to Kerala’s 9%.
The next 10 minutes had an even look with both the team trying to look for gaps to enter but being thwarted. By then the attacking index had shifted to 64% in the favour of ATK to Kerala’s 36%. Lalrindika Ralte came in to replace Sameehg Doutie in the 78th minute while an injured Jewel Raja had to be substituted in the 85th minute for Bikramjit Singh.
With five minutes added to the final half, ATK had only 10 minutes to hold on to their well-earned lead while Kerala went all out to salvage a point from the match. German, Ndoye and Micheal Chopra kept the ATK defence on their toes with brisk runs, good passes, free kicks and corners.
With a fantastic effort from the ATK defence to keep the lead intact, the whistle blew and ATK ended their first away match with a win.
FT Scoreline: Kerala Blasters 0:1 Atletico de Kolkata
In the after match Awards, ATK bagged three awards:
Maruti Suzuki Swift Moment of the Match : Sameehg Doutie
DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Juan Belencoso
Hero of the Match: Javi Lara
ATK took away three points to reach the second position of the ISL league table. The next match for the red and white brigade is on the 11th of October at the Mumbai Football Arena against Mumbai City FC.
Till then, have a wonderful Puja ahead and keep chanting #AamarBukeyATK!