Luis Garcia wins it for the Kolkatans
KOLKATA, NOVEMBER 18
Atletico de Kolkata registered only their second victory on home soil to do the double over NorthEast United FC as they recorded a 1-0 victory at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Luis Garcia’s headed goal won three crucial points for Atletico as they established a three point gap at the top as they lead the pack with 16 points from 9 matches in the Indian Super League (ISL). Meanwhile, NorthEast United are on the sixth spot with 10 points from 9 outings.Atletico de Kolkata made a solitary change as the injured Biswajit Saha was replaced by Nallappan Mohanraj who was handed his Indian Super League (ISL) debut.
Meanwhile, the Highlanders decided to bring Durga Boro back in to the lineup in place of James Keene while Massamba Lo Sambou was brought into the heart of defense with Seminlen Doungel being relegated to the bench.
In the seventh minute, Atletico failed to finish off a move when they had an advantage of four against two with Luis Garcia guilty of over-hitting a pass for Lester Fernandez which allowed TP Rehenesh to come out and collect.
Five minutes later, Fikru was clean through on the right after a delightful lob from Baljit Sahni. Rehenesh came off his line and ended up fouling the striker. Jofre Mateu’s resulting free-kick from the edge of the box failed to beat the first man and nothing came off it for the home side.
Robing Gurung slipped on the half line and gifted ball to Luis Garcia. The Spaniard looked up and tried to catch the keeper off guard with a long ranger but it only sailed over the goal.
A neatly worked corner saw Lester Fernandez play on an onrushing Borja Fernandez who failed to make good contact to his shot which allowed Capdevila to easily put a foot in.
Baljit Singh could have given away a penalty in the closing minutes of the first half when he barged Alen Deory off the ball but the referee adjudged it as a fair shoulder charge.
Jofre Mateu free-kick was just about cleared by Lo Sambou which went as far as Garcia who scuffed his shot as Rehenesh easily collected the ball.
Luis Garcia finally broke the deadlock on the 51st minute from Jofre’s cross down the left as Capdevila failed to contain his former international team mate which allowed him to head past a hapless Rehenesh in goal. It all started after Felipe failed to receive a pass from his defense which allowed Borja to pounce. He played it to Fikru who picked out Jofre on the left who was left clean through by Aiborlang Khongjee.
The Highlanders had their best opportunity four minutes later when Koke stepped up to take a free-kick from about 30 yards and sent it agonizingly wide of Subhasish Roy Chowdhury’s right post.
Durga Boro smashed a ball over the bar as the ball fell to him just outside the box on the hour mark.
Garcia did ever so well to pounce on a loose ball played by Capdevila and went down the right before sending a cross towards Fikru in the box who went down under Miguel Garcia’s challenge but the referee was not interested.
In the 70th minute, NorthEast on a free-kick again straight down the centre. Koke laid it off for Capdevila whose strike sailed wide not troubling Subhasish in goal.
Garcia showed sublime skill as he plucked the ball on the half-line before finding Lester Fernandez on the right. The former Pune FC player wasted too much time as he played an outside ball to Fikru who smashed it onto the sidenetting.
In the 83rd minute, Deory went clear down the right before picking out substitute Seminlen Doungel who failed to keep his header on target. Five minutes later, Luis Yanes was inches wide from getting at the end of a Kondwani Mtonga header from Aibor’s cross.
Substitute Sanju Pradhan had an instant impact as he crossed for Arnal Llibert from the right. However, the Spaniard struck his first time shot straight to Rehenesh.
It was a deserved victory for the home side as they created several attacking moves although they converted just once. Meanwhile, Ricki Herbert needs to find a way for his side to start scoring as they hold the record for scoring the least number of goals in the ISL alongside Kerala Blasters.