Pearson's injury time winner seals the deal for ATK at Goa
24th November 2016
Venue: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, Goa
FC Goa Starting XI: Laxmikanth Kattimani(GK), Keenan Almeida, Gregory Arnolin(C), Rafael Dumas, Debabrata Roy, Trindade Goncalves, Joffre Mateu Gonzalez, Richarlyson Felisbino, Mandar Rao Dessai, Romeo Fernandes, Rafael Coelho Luiz.
ATK Starting XI: Debjit Majumder(GK), Jose Luis Espinosa Arroyo, Arnab Mondal, Pritam Kotal, Robert Lalthlamuana, Borja Fernandez(C), Javier Lara Grande, Stephen Paul Pearson, Abinash Ruidas, Juan Belencoso, Helder Postiga.
As Kolkata is considered to be the 'Mecca' of Indian football, Goa is often deemed to be the Capital of Indian football and a match between ATK and FC Goa is always touted to be a passionate affair while some refer it to be the ‘Indian Classico'. Goa had never managed to win against ATK in all three seasons, and the away team was prepared to ensure that the record remained intact.
ATK came into the match as the third-placed team on the ISL table needing a win to solidify their position in the top 4 and playing their last away game of the season, while it was the most crucial match for FC Goa, the bottom placed team, as losing the game meant that they would be out of Semi-final contention.
Jose Molina changed his starting formation to 4-4-1-1 in place of the normal 4-2-3-1 formation he applied in all games. He made three changes in the line-up where the injured Henrique Sereno was replaced by Tiri and Robert Lalthlamuana took Pereira's position at left back. Arnab Mondal and Pritam Kotal completed the defensive wall helmed by the dependable Debjit Majumdar under the bar. The centre midfield had the captain Borja Fernandez and Stephen Pearson being supported by Javi Lara on the right and Abinash Ruidas, who replaced Lalrindika Ralte, on the left. Juan Belencoso lead the attack supported by our marquee player, Helder Postiga.
The match started and from the very first minute, ATK was on fire producing one of their best attacking displays of the season so far. In the very first minute, Kotal's cross from the right found Pearson inside the box but his shot at goal was collected by Goa's keeper. Though Goa came back with two strong replies as they made inroads into the ATK defence, they failed to find the back of the net.
The 7th minute saw ATK coming very close to take the lead when Belencoso's shot deflected off to find Javi Lara in front of goal who took an aim but the Goan keeper, Kattimani, was on guard and saved it. Javi Lara came back again in minutes to lodge a powerful shot towards goal but a diving Kattimani saved it.
Goa made a comeback from the 15th minute onwards as they tried to find loopholes in the defence only to be thwarted by the ATK defenders every time. In the 25th minute, Borja teamed up with Postiga to build up a chance near goal but the latter was ruled offside.
The breakthrough for ATK came in the 28th minute in the form of Juan Belencoso. Abinash Ruidas ran down with the ball across the left flank and sent in a wonderful cross inside the box. Belencoso left behind his markers and his 6.1 feet frame jumped over the others and lodged the ball into the net past the flailing hands of the keeper, to register his second of the season and ATK's first of the match.
After the goal, ATK came back with more vigour and continued to throng the Goan defence. Pearson had an attempt at goal while Borja's long distance chip shot which dangerously bounced to enter the net was collected by Kattimani at the last moment. By the 35th minute, the attacking index read 78% in the favour of ATK.
Goa tried to get back into the game through attempts from Romeo and Joffre but both missed the target. In the 40th minute, ATK came very very close to take a double lead when Lara's corner ball found Postiga in the middle, who rose above the rest to head the ball towards goal only for it to hit the crossbar and go out of play.
Borja, Lara, Postiga, Belencoso and Ruidas continued to keep Goa on their toes with continuous attempts at goal. In the 44th minute, another of Ruidas' ground crosses in the box was fisted away by the keeper before Belencoso could reach it and the chance was missed by a whisker.
Two minutes were added to the first half before the referee blew the whistle for the breather.
HT Scoreline: FC Goa 0:1 Atletico de Kolkata
First Half stats:
Possession: GOA 42% : 58% ATK
Shots on Goal: GOA 0 : 5 ATK
Corner Kicks: GOA 4 : 9 ATK
Number of Passes: GOA 170 : 275 ATK
Crosses: GOA 3 : 15 ATK
Interceptions: GOA 7 : 9 ATK
Passing Accuracy: GOA 64% : 78% ATK
The second half started with a corner for Goa where Trindade's shot was headed away by an alert Postiga to safety. Postiga again came back in the 49th minute as he sent a blinder towards goal only to miss by mere inches. At the 50th minute mark, ATK had a close shave when Robert Lalthlamuana's clearance almost entered his own net but the crossbar came to the rescue.
Postiga came back twice in the next 10 minutes through his shots a goal only to find Kattimani fisting them away to safety. Joffre had a chance for Goa through a free kick but his shot was way off-target. Juan Belencoso came close again to score another but his last touch on the ball was intercepted by the keeper.
From then on, Goa held on to the game and unleashed a full attack on ATK. Debjit made a number of brilliant saves to deny Goa, especially in the 70th minute mark, when Robin leapt up to send a sure shot header towards goal but he managed to collect. By the 78th minute, the attacking index read 68% in the favour of Goa.
In the 80th minute, ATK faced a setback when Mandar Rao Dessai lodged in a fantastic long distance shot past the hands of Debjit at the right bottom of ATK's net. Molina made a double substitution in 5 minutes. Iain Hume resumed action in the place of Postiga while Sameehg Doutie replaced Javi Lara. Both the substitution were made with the aim to bring in pace and sharpness to the ATK attack.
The 87th minute saw ATK build up a good chance when Belencoso sent the ball towards Pearson inside the box but Kattimani made another good save to deny him. With four minutes added to the final half of play, both the teams went into full attacking mode. ATK made their last substitution where Jewel Raja replaced Abinash Ruidas.
Goa had a corner but ATK counter-attacked in seconds with Doutie running forward with the ball alongside Hume and Belencoso with only one defender to beat. His shot unfortunately hit the underside of the crossbar to go out for a goal kick. But, the action was not yet over.
It was in the 2nd minute of the injury time, that ATK stole the game away from the hosts. Another 3 to 1 situation arrived at the Goan end with Sameehg Doutie running down the right flank with Pearson and Belencoso. This time he took no chance and sent the ball towards Pearson who calmly sent it past the keeper to net ATK's winner. The match came to an end in another minute.
FT Scoreline: FC Goa 1:2 Atletico de Kolkata
Possession: GOA 47% : 53% ATK
Offside: GOA 5 : 2 ATK
Shots on Goal: GOA 3 : 8 ATK
Corner Kicks: GOA 9 : 11 ATK
Number of Passes: GOA 407 : 479 ATK
Crosses: GOA 23 : 27 ATK
Interceptions: GOA 17 : 19 ATK
Passing Accuracy: GOA 68% : 76% ATK
In the after match Awards, ATK bagged three awards:
Club Award: Atletico de Kolkata
DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Sameehg Doutie
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Abinash Ruidas
ATK rises up the ISL points table to the second place just behind Mumbai City FC with 18 points. The team will come back home to Kolkata to play their last two fixtures of the season before the knock-outs. They face Kerala Blasters next on 29th of November.
Till then, keep cheering and supporting the Team while chanting #AamarBukeyATK!