Atletico de Kolkata in ISL semis after draw vs Kerala Blasters FC
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Atletico de Kolkata in ISL semis after draw vs Kerala Blasters FC

Atletico de Kolkata played out a 1-1 draw with Kerala Blasters FC on Tuesday to book a semifinal spot in the ISL.

football Updated: Nov 30, 2016 10:33 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times
ISL,Indian Super League,Atletico de Kolkata
Goalkeeper Debjit Majumder of Atletico de Kolkata made a couple of crucial saves against the Kerala Blasters FC during their ISL match in Kolkata on Tuesday, vindicating the faith Atletico coach Jose Molina has shown in the Indian custodian.(Ashok Nath Dey/HT PHOTO)

Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) became the first team in the history of the Indian Super League (ISL) to enter the semifinals of all three editions with another draw, their seventh. The 1-1 result against Kerala Blasters FC means Antonio Habas, formerly of ATK, will travel to Kolkata with FC Pune City for an inconsequential match. It also snuffed out defending champions Chennaiyin FC’s slim chance of a semi-final berth.

Mumbai City FC, Delhi Dynamos and Atletico de Kolkata are in the semifinals and the fourth spot will be decided between Kerala Blasters and NorthEast United FC.

  • Atletico de Koklata becomes first team in history of ISL to enter semifinals in all three seasons.
  • Mumbai City FC, Delhi Dynamos and Atletico have reached the semis this season.
  • Kerala Blasters and NorthEast United FC are in the race for the last semifinal spot.

Like in most of their games in ISL3, Atletico de Kolkata controlled the game. When they played through Helder Postiga, they looked really dangerous. Barring a free header that Senegalese midfielder Elhadji Ndoye couldn’t keep on target, Kerala Blasters FC weren’t really able to test Debjit Majumder in goal. That they led for 10 minutes was thanks to a clanger from Majumder.

Rarely used by Mumbai City FC last term but one of the most consistent players for Mohun Bagan, this 28-year-old goalie is perhaps the first name ATK coach Jose Molina pencils in after skipper Borja Fernandez. He has saved a Florent Malouda penalty and almost denied Diego Forlan.

But when Mehtab Hossain lobbed a free-kick, he failed to grip it and Cedric Hengbart got a timely leg in to find Vineeth who headed into an empty goal. In the 13th minute, Majumder let another one slip but had time to recover. Not for nothing did he seem relieved when Stephen Pearson equalised.

Fittingly, that move had Postiga providing the assist though Iain Hume’s ability to think on his feet was just important. It was Hume’s presence of mind that created the matchwinner against FC Goa and here too, it was the Canadian return pass to Postiga that caught Sandesh Jhingan ball-watching. Jhingan’s covering too wasn’t perfect and Pearson moved in to score against his former club.

By letting Postiga move between the lines, ATK took control of the midfield. A minute before his assist, ATK’s marquee player touched the ball once with his sole and it sent two Kerala Blasters players scurrying in different directions. The resultant shot didn’t miss by much. Ditto a header off an Abinash Ruidas delivery. With Kerala Blasters playing three in the midfield, Postiga, it seemed, was playing ‘catch-me-if-you-can’ with Mehtab Hossain and Ishfaq Ahmed.

ATK’s home record stayed at one win, one loss and four draws but the Hume-Postiga combination in the front third, Arnab Mondal and Tiri at the back and Pearson’s forward runs would be some of the positives going into the semi-finals.

First Published: Nov 29, 2016 22:27 IST