Postiga returns and ATK is back to winning ways
28th October 2016
Venue: Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati
Northeast United FC Starting XI: Subrata Paul(GK), Nirmal Chettri, Robin Gurung, Gustavo Lazzaretti, Holicharan Narzary, Rowllin Borges, Katsumi Yusa, Didier Zokora(C), Wellington Priori, Robert Cullen, Emiliano Alfaro.
ATK Starting XI: Debjit Majumder(GK), Prabir Das, Pritam Kotal, Arnab Mondal, Henrique Fonseca Sereno, Stephen Paul Pearson, Lalrindika Ralte, Javier Lara Grande, Borja Fernandez(C), Sameehg Doutie, Juan Belencoso.
India had geared up to witness the first Eastern derby of ISL 2016 and the buzz around the match was huge. The winners of the game would go up to lead the ISL 2016 table and neither Northeast United FC not ATK wanted to let go of such an opportunity.
It was an away game for ATK after three consecutive home encounters and Jose Molina made a number of changes to the starting line-up. Debjit Majumder’s classic performances thus far, ensured that he held his position under goal. The defensive line-up saw a reshuffle where Pritam Kotal and Henrique Sereno, who came back from suspension, replaced Tiri and Robert Lalthlamuana. In the midfield was the captain, Borja Fernandez and Stephen Pearson while Sameehg Doutie and Lalrindika Ralte took care of the right and left flanks, respectively. Javi Lara held his position behind the main striker, Juan Belencoso, who replaced Iain Hume. Molina fielded the team in the same 4-2-3-1 formation.
The starting minutes of the match had a very even look to it with most of the play happening in the midfield. However, at the 5th minute mark a small mistake by Debjit could have cost ATK heavy but the NEUFC player couldn’t manage to take a shot at goal as Arnab barged in.
In the very next minute, ATK counter attacked with Javi Lara’s long distance shot at goal but Subrata Paul collected it. The next 10 minutes saw NEUFC having a number of chances to add to their tally through corners, free kicks and distance shots but Debjit and the defenders kept every threat at bay. The attacking index at the 20th minute mark read 53% in the favour of the home team.
The next 10 minutes saw both the left and right back showing their skills when Prabir Das sent a powerful shot from distance to the bottom right side of the goal and Pritam Kotal sent in a cross, but both of them was collected by Paul. At the 30 minute mark, ATK had a great chance when Doutie’s cross got deflected to find Belencoso who directed a powerful volley towards goal only to be blocked by NEUFC.
ATK continued to press forward that ensured that the attacking index read 89% in the favour of ATK. However, ATK faced a setback minutes later, when NEUFC’s Katsumi Yusa passed the ball to Nirmal Chettri, who sent a spectacular cross inside the ball to be headed in by Alfaro. Alfaro made no mistake and lodged the ball in past Debjit to give NEUFC the lead before half time.
ATK tried to get back in the game and utilise the one minute of added time, but the Referee blew the whistle to bring the half to an end.
Northeast United FC 1:0 Atletico de Kolkata
After trailing behind at halftime, Jose Molina made two major substitutions at the halfway mark to bring in a different flavour to the gameplay. Our Marquee player, Helder Postiga made a comeback from the bench, after having missed 3 matches due to a rib injury. He replaced Sameehg Doutie. On the other hand, Prabir Das made way for Robert Lalthlamuana.
Postiga was in the middle of action as soon as he set foot on the field and the ATK players attitude changed completely after the halftime break. Javi Lara’s cross got intercepted by Paul and Postiga’s curling ball found Belencoso who unfortunately, headed it just wide. In the next minute, Postiga lodged a powerful ground shot aimed at goal but it got deflected while in flight to award ATK a corner. He continued to throng the defence continuously.
The first 15 minutes of the second half was a complete ATK show as Postiga, Lara, Ralte and Belencoso continued to press forward. By the hour mark, the attacking index read a whooping 91% in the favour of ATK.
It was in the 69th minute, that Helder Postiga showed everyone the world class striker that he is. Ralte sent in an accurate cross from the left flank towards Postiga, and the latter made no mistake as he jumped high and sent in a powerful header past the hands of Paul to gift ATK the much-needed equaliser.
The next 10 minutes was again a complete ATK show as they continued to throng the NEUFC box with short passes, crosses and headers. Two beautiful chances opened up again but both time Belencoso was Offside.
In the 75th minute, NEUFC’s keeper, Subrata Paul had to be substituted as he seemed to be in extreme discomfort. However, the ATK onslaught continue to blow.
In the 82nd minute, the heart of every ATK fan erupted in joy. Postiga tried to take a shot at goal but it got deflected away. Ralte ran in to collect the ball and cheekily passed the ball through the flailing hands of the NEUFC keeper to find Belencoso, who gently tapped the ball into an empty net to give ATK the lead and register his first goal this season.
With hardly any minute remaining in the game, NEUFC came back in full swing trying to get the much needed equaliser against their rivals. Katsumi, Alfaro and Reagan continued to look for loopholes in the ATK attack but every defender held their ground. There were a couple of close shaves but ATK kept their head cool.
With six minutes of time added to the final half of play, ATK tried to hold on to the ball so that NEUFC does not get any chance to attack again. During the added time, Arnab Mondal went down injured and was quickly substituted for Bikramjit Singh. Bikramjit soon got a chance to score when Postiga passed the ball to him at the edge of the box but it went just wide off the target.
With a last rush of energy and activities, the Referee blew the whistle and the match came to an end.
FT Scoreline: Northeast United FC 1:2 Atletico de Kolkata
In the after match Awards, ATK bagged all five awards:
Hero of the Match: Helder Postiga
Maruti Suzuki Swift Moment of the Match : Pritam Kotal
DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Lalrindika Ralte
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Lalrindika Ralte
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Javi Lara
ATK is now the new leaders of the ISL Table with Mumbai City FC and Northeast United FC trailing just behind. ATK stars now have a week before they face FC Pune City next to celebrate the win, rejuvenate themselves and train harder.
The next match takes place on the 6th of November at Pune’s Balewadi Stadium. Till then, have a fantastic and prosperous Diwali and continue to chant #AamarBukeyATK!