Indian Super League: ATK beat NorthEast United FC to avoid wooden spoon

An early goal from caretaker coach and captain Robbie Keane helped ATK defeat North East United FC 1-0 in their concluding league clash of the Indian Super League on Sunday.

football Updated: Mar 05, 2018 11:14 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Indian Super League,ATK,NorthEast United FC
ATK defeated NorthEast United FC in their Indian Super League (ISL) encounter on Sunday.(ISL)

Robbie Keane scored in his third successive game and it ensured that defending champions ATK avoided finishing last in the fourth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL). NorthEast United FC did, the team paying for John Mosquera squandering three clear opportunities on the night.

Sunday’s 1-0 win against NorthEast United was ATK’s first in nine games and had Keane ending the competition with six goals. Ferran Corominas has got thrice as many to lead the charts but then hit by a litany of injuries, Keane has played only nine games.

Of the 16 points, ATK ended ISL4 with seven came from Keane’s goals. He got the matchwinners in 1-0 wins against Delhi Dynamos and NorthEast United here and had scored first against FC Goa at home.

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Debuting in his role as player-manager, Keane struck in the 10th minute with a goal that again encapsulated his class. Keane’s run sliced NorthEast United’s inner defence and he scored with a first touch; the outside of his right boot redirecting Connor Thomas’ accurate long pass from the halfway line into the bottom corner.

ATK’s ploy of putting long balls behind the defence seemed to have caught the visitors off guard initially and speedy South African Sibongakonke Mbatha nearly got another after he prised open space by getting to the end of an Anwar Ali delivery. The finish lacked finesse but a measure of why ATK have floundered this term could be had in the fact that the next time they really challenged TP Reheneh’s goal was after the hour mark.

Again it was Mbatha who had found space and scootered in but couldn’t keep his placement on target.

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In between and after them, it was NorthEast United all the way. They used the width of the pitch better and after Swedish Maic Sema hit the side-netting, Mosquera was denied in the 36th minute by Soram Poirei’s reflexes in a one-on-one situation after Holicharan Narzary found the Colombian forward. Poirei was up to the task again in the 53rd after Rowlin Borges had dispossessed Shankar Sampingiraj and found their targetman. What could have been a hattrick for Mosquera ended with him getting nothing after his first-time volley in the 75th minute went wide.

That meant ATK ended ninth in a competition they have won twice. This was ATK’s fourth win and the last time they got full points too it had come against NortEast United, on January 12. NorthEast United lost their sixth match on the trot and ended on 11 points. Both teams will now play the Super Cup qualifiers, at an undecided date and against opponents from the I-league who too haven’t been identified.

First Published: Mar 04, 2018 22:43 IST