Ten-man Atletico de Kolkata registered their second consecutive win at the Indian Super League (ISL), beating hosts NorthEast United FC 2-0 at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati on Thursday.
Ethiopian striker Fikru Lemessa and Czech Republic midfielder Jakub Podany scored for the visiting team, who consolidated their position at the top of the standings with six points from two matches. However, the game also witnessed the first red card of the ISL, with Spaniard Borja Fernandez — who had scored a stunning goal in the opening game for Kolkata — being shown his second yellow card in the 84th minute for a silly challenge on Leo Bertos.
Kolkata led 1-0 at halftime through a superbly-taken goal by Fikru in the 13th minute — his second goal in as many matches.
The ball was masterly chipped over the NorthEast defence by Kolkata’s ‘marquee’ player Luis Garcia and the chested it before volleying it into the net.
Spanish imports Jofre Mateu Gonzalez and Borja came close to scoring, bringing out some fantastic saves from the NorthEast goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas, who was kept busy throughout the first half.
Atletico could have extended their lead had the upright not come in the way. Jofre’s cleverly-taken corner was nodded towards the goal by Botswana midfielder Ofentse Natobut but the ball rebounded off the right post.
The second half was, however, more evenly contest with both teams trying to score and constructing attacks at frantic pace.
NorthEast came close to equalising with Joan Capdevilla tapping the ball in the goal in the 70th minute from close range but he was adjudged offside.
As the match wore on, NorthEast asserted their supremacy. Atletico were forced to back off and that pressure forced Borja, who was booked earlier, to commit a needless foul in the 84th minute.
NorthEast committed more men forward but were left vulnerable at the back and Atletico capitalised on the open spaces left behind by their opponents in the final minute of regulation time, executing a swift counter-attack that was converted smartly by an unmarked Jakub to confirm the verdict.