Among howlers in football, Henrique Sereno’s pass for Arnab Mondal wouldn’t figure in football’s funny videos but it was enough to have Atletico de Kolkata trailing for the second time against NorthEast United in ISL3. Because Nico Velez didn’t need a second invitation.
It took till the 90th minute for Iain Hume to avoid a second successive defeat at home; the Canadian slotting home Helder Postiga’s superb header off a Javi Lara free-kick. For the hosts, the draw though left more questions than it answered.
About the defence first. Mondal didn’t play the last match where coach Jose Molina had preferred Tiri as Soreno’s partner in central defence. Mondal shouldn’t have played to Soreno with Velez lurking nearby because it left the Portuguese with no other option but to return the pass. Velez beat Mondal, rounded off Debjit Majumder and scored.
Mondal and Sereno have been paired in four of ATK’s 10 games with Mondal teaming with Tiri in four more. In both games against Delhi Dynamos, it was the Tiri-Sereno pair that played. The responsibilities of playing full backs too has been rotated between Pritam Kotal, Prabir Das and Robert Lalthlamuana.
But asked whether changes at the back have led to an unsettled quartet, Molina had replied in the negative, even adding on Thursday that he was happy with his defenders.
Against a team that downed hatches well after the early gift, ATK also missed the speed of the injured Sameehg Doutie. ATK couldn’t break fast enough because neither Javi Lara nor Lalrindika Ralte had the pace of the South African. And, with North East United packing the middle despite benching marquee Didier Zokora to deny Postiga space, it meant deliveries for Iain Hume weren’t good enough. When Ralte was taken off for Abinash Ruidas, it forced Hume to the left but even that didn’t help matters.
The goal was about the only real piece of action till Emiliano Alfaro’s 80th minute header was aimed at Majumder which the goalie pulled back from the line.
The crowd got behind ATK and, at least for the night, principle owner Sanjiv Goenka needn’t have worried about Mohun Bagan and East Bengal eating into the team’s fledgling fan base because Katsumi Yusa, who is a Mohun Bagan regular, and goalie Subrata Pal were booed because they were playing for the visitors.
Then, Hume struck and the Rabindra Sarobar with some 12,000 people shook.