Chennai, Nov 20 (IANS) Title holders Chennaiyin FC and former champions Atletico de Kolkata's (ATK) chances of semi-final qualification were left hanging in the balance after a 1-1 draw in an Indian Super League (ISL) football clash here on Sunday.
Atletico de Kolkata enjoyed a first-half lead through marquee player Helder Postiga (39th minute) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. But Chennaiyin were stronger in the second session and got the equaliser through Davide Succi in the 77th minute.
The draw left Chennaiyin in the sixth spot with 14 points from 11 matches. ATK moved to the third spot with 15 points from 11 matches, the same as FC Pune City and Kerala Blasters. ATK have a better goal difference than Pune and Kerala.
ATK coach Jose Molina left Canadian striker and ISL's highest goal scorer so far Iain Hume on the bench.
Hume's absence didn't hurt ATK much as they were on the offensive right from the kick-off. The visitors should have been ahead in the third minute when a cross from Lalrindika Ralte towards the far post saw Postiga rise highest but his angled header hit the sidebar and bounced back into play.
It was a lucky escape for Chennaiyin, who took time to settle down. Thy had a chance to surge ahead but Dutch midfielder Hans Mulder's half-volley was parried away by ATK goalkeeper Debjit Majumder.
Chennaiyin were disciplined defensively and looked like going into halftime goalless. But Postiga struck with six minutes to the breather. Defender Pritam Kotal sent an accurate cross inside the penalty box where Postiga headed past goalkeeper Karanjit Singh.
Chennaiyin were much improved in the second session while going forward. Italian striker Davide Succi was at the end of most chances created by the hosts but lacked sharpness.
In the 56th minute, he was put clear by Zakeer Mundampara on the right but Succi's first touch took the ball away, forcing him to miss the target.
Succi had another chance in the 71st minute when all alone inside the box after being at the right end of a through ball. The Italian drew out the goalkeeper and cut past him but his final shot only ended up hitting the side netting.
After two misses, Succi finally converted his third chance in the 77th minute, rising high to head a ball into the net.
Chennaiyin should have got all three points from this game but for their wayward strikers who squandered plenty of chances.