Having scored with his first touch in Delhi, Simao Sabrosa converted a controversial penalty on Saturday to script NorthEast United’s first away win, beating Atletico de Kolkata, who have now already lost more games in the second edition of the Indian Super League than they did in the first.
NorthEast United FC could have made Atletico de Kolkata pay on at least four more occasions but Bruno Herrero, Nicolas Velez twice and, deep in second-half stoppage time, Diomansy Kamara in that order couldn’t finish off the moves.
Kolkata also haven’t kept a clean sheet this season. Josemi’s leadership skills in central defence are being missed. It’s also forcing Atletico de Kolkata coach Antonio Lopez Habas to play Ofentse Nato in central defence and that, in turn, has disrupted the partnership in midfield crucial to them being difficult to break down last season.
Borja Fernandez and Nato sitting in front of the back four scuttled opponents’ moves with the kind of regularity that Sunil Chhetri has scored goals this time. On Saturday, Fernandez had an uncharacteristically error-strewn game. And shifted between midfield and central defence, Nato hasn’t looked settled though being penalised for minimal contact on NorthEast United defender Carlos Lopez was harsh. “It was a rubbish penalty but I am not going to say anything against the referee (David Gantar),” said Habas.
But that the foul came following a corner-kick conceded by Franco when he was under no pressure is symptomatic of the problems in defence Atletico de Kolkata have had this time.
It meant the visitors got an early lead which they protected with some luck and a lot of pluck from central defender Andre Bikey. Iain Hume’s 65th minute push to a delivery from Mohammed Rafique had goal written all over it till Bikey slid a leg in.
For Atletico de Kolkata, four goals last Sunday against Mumbai City FC sure looked like an aberration between successive home defeats.