Chennaiyin FC play out 2-2 draw against Atletico de Kolkata in ISL | football | Hindustan Times
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Chennaiyin FC play out 2-2 draw against Atletico de Kolkata in ISL

Defending champions Chennaiyin FC and Atletico de Kolkata played out a highly-entertaining 2-2 draw in their campaign opening match in the Indian Super League football in Kolkata on Sunday.

football Updated: Oct 02, 2016 22:25 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Atletico De Kolkata’s Pritam Kotal in action during the ISL match against Chennaiyin FC.
Atletico De Kolkata’s Pritam Kotal in action during the ISL match against Chennaiyin FC.(Subhankar Chakraborty/HT PHOTO)

The buzz of crickets is not usually associated with Sunday night football. But the Rabindra Sarobar stadium is in the environmentally sensitive area in the south Kolkata. It was holding a football match at this level after over a decade, the first under lights that have been temporarily put up for ISL3.

That made ATK’s new home look more like FC Pune City’s ground at Balewadi in terms of size. Only 11,500 seats are available meaning this venue would hold around half of what a tier would at Salt Lake stadium where ATK played for the first two seasons but couldn’t this time due because the amphitheatre is readying for the Fifa under-17 World Cup to be held next year.

There were 10,973 watching ATK’s opener against defending champions Chennaiyin FC on Sunday and they generated enough noise to get behind the hosts, especially when, against a team that has a left-foot rocket called John Arne Riise, they conceded free-kicks in dangerous areas. Riise’s first, in the seventh minute, thudded into the horizontal.

They did that when ATK scored too, the move showing what Helder Postiga can do when fit. The ATK marquee’s pass to Sameehg Doutie opened the play and the nifty South African slotted home at the near post.

ATK showed that the transition from the animated Antonio Habas to the much calmer Jose Molina has been smooth. The team retained its 4-2-3-1 formation and used the pitch’s width by attacking Chennaiyin FC’s full backs N Mohanraj and Mehrajuddin Wadoo.

With Doutie as wide right and Javi Lara on the left, ATK forced Chennaiyin FC to play very narrow.

But ATK’s lead was shortlived as Jayesh Rane equalised, blindsiding Arnab Mondal with a smart run showing how sharp Chennaiyin FC can be on the break.

It was 2-1 for the visitors as Hans Mulder’s effort changed direction after hitting Tiri. Iain Hume equalised from a penalty after Jerry Lalrinzuala barreled into Doutie. With 17 goals Hume is now the ISL’s highest scorer.

So though Postiga had a good game and his link-ups with Hume looked promising as did ATK’s build-up play, the hosts failed to notch up a hattrick of opening game wins. In goal, Debjit Majumder looked confident like he did for Mohun Bagan in two seasons. But after a 1-0 opener in Guwahati, it took teams that have won this competition to liven up things by sharing four goals.