Blasters draw ATK to earn first point
Kolkata, October 26
Atletico de Kolkata drew 1-1 at home to Kerala Blasters in an Indian Super League clash on Sunday evening at the Salt Lake Stadium. First half goals from Baljit Sahni (22′) and Iain Hume (41′) saw the two sides settle for a point each. The hosts made three changes to their starting line-up as Kingshuk Debnath replaced injured Denzil Franco while Subhasish Roy Chowdhury returned between the sticks. Arnal Llibert, who had scored a goal in the ISL opener, earned his first start in the competition.
David James also made as many changes in the travelling line-up as Raphael Romey, Stephen Pearson and Milagres Gonsalves all featured in the starting eleven with Avinabo Bag, Pulga and C.S.Sabeeth making way.
Kolkata lined up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation with Cavin Lobo deployed just behind Arnal Llibert, who was played as the lone striker. Kerala, on the other hand stuck to their 4-1-4-1 formation with Mehtab Hossain playing as a defensive midfielder and Milagres Gonsalves upfront.
After the initial exchanges, Jofre Mateu created the first chance for the hosts, when he took advantage of a Cedric Hengbert error to send in a low-cross from the left. However, the French defender who spoiled the offside trap moments ago, did well to make a vital interception and deflect the ball away for a corner.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 22nd minute when Arnal played the ball to Jofre on the left. The former Barcelona footballer played in a ground pass into the box behind the Kerala defense and following a Cavin Lobo dummy, the ball came to Borja Fernandes, who laid it off for Baljit. The Indian attacker pulled off a brilliant right-footer which went straight into the net, giving David James little chance.
Kerala didn’t have many chances to boast of as Mehtab Hossain and Iain Hume tried a couple of long-rangers but failed to pose any threat to Subhasish Roy Chowdhury’s goal.
However, Morgan’s men got the equalizer in the 41st minute against the run of play, courtesy of a moment of individual excellence by Milagres. The former Salgaocar striker managed a sublime back-heel to dissect the Kolkata defense after receiving it from Iain Hume. Hume did well to follow the ball and guided it into the net brilliantly to restore parity.
The teams went into the break with the scoreline reading one goal each.
After the break, Jakub Podany replaced Biswajit Saha at left-back for the home side.
Kerala had a half-chance early on as Sandesh Jhinghan jumped above a melee to head a Mehtab Hossain corner on target in the 47th minute, but it was straight at Subhasish.
Atletico had a golden opportunity to score the second in the 53rd minute when Jofre Mateu delivered a pinpoint ground pass from the left wing that was not met by any of the Kerala defenders, but Baljit could only hit the bar from close range.
In the 74th minute, Jofre Mateu sailed in a free-kick that was back-headed by Ofentse Nato in front of the six-yard box, but Arnal Llibert’s powerful side-volley was blocked by the defense.
Renedy Singh delivered a brilliant cross from the right flank and Iain Hume did well to get the better of Arnab Mondal and his header almost went past Subhasish, before Kingshuk cleared it from the goalline.
Jofre missed an excellent chance to grab all three points in added time. He failed to keep his left-footer on target following moments of fumbling from David James and co.
It was a drab encounter with the sides sharing the spoils after 90 minutes. Jofre Mateu and Iain Hume were the standout performers on the night. Kerala Blasters though would be please to register their first point in the ISL.