ISL 2018: ATK down defending champs Chennaiyin FC, move to fourth
Till Carlos Salom swooped to conquer and flicked home Francis Fernandes’ delivery in the 17th minute, it seemed defending champions Chennaiyin FC were the living embodiment of Murphy’s Law, which says if something has to go wrong it will, in ISL 5.
By the third minute, the visitors were trailing at Salt Lake stadium through Kalu Uche’s goal which came from a cannonball of a headed clearance from Gerson Vieira that could have gone anywhere but arrowed at the ATK striker catching the Chennaiyin FC central defensive pair of Inigo Calderon and Eli Sabia out of position. This after Chennaiyin FC had done most of the early running.
John Johnson’s header, off a Manuel Lanzarote free-kick following a foul on Komal Thatal, that made it 2-0 in the 13th minute made it look like a good Friday for ATK who hadn’t scored at home this term. The teams went into this match with a 3-3 head-to-head with four games ending in draws and proof of how they take this contest came in the 28th minute when Fernandes lay bleeding on the floor and ATK pushed ahead for a goal.
Salom came close to making it 2-2 between the 55th and 61st minute but couldn’t keep his efforts on target but that Chennaiyin FC ended the first half with 60% possession and more shots told part of the story. That they had fewer shots on target told the other part.
Defensively too they haven’t been a patch on last season. Calderon, used as right-back last term, didn’t look comfortable as central defender and could have been responsible for another Uche goal in the 11th minute. And they seem to be missing the injured Dhanpal Ganesh’s terrier-like ability in the midfield. Yet, had substitute Gregory Nelson’s header from close not been acrobatically saved by Arindam Bhattacharya, Chennaiyin FC could have left Kolkata with something. Instead, they have now lost four of their five games and what that means could be gauged by the way Calderon charged at referee Ajit Meetei after the final whistle.
ATK’s first win at home and second of the season moved them to fourth in the standings on seven points from five games. What could also augur well for them going into next week’s clash against Bengaluru FC is that they seem to be settling down as a team and showing clever variations at set-pieces where Lanzarote is the spearhead.