ATK keep semis hopes alive with a late winner against FC Goa (ISL report)
Panaji, Nov 24 (IANS) Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) rode on a late goal from Stephen Pearson to all but knock out FC Goa and strengthen their grip on a playoff berth in an Indian Super League (ISL) tie here on Thursday.
Juan Belencoso opened the scoring in the 28th minute after sustained spell of attack from ATK but a superb goal by Mandar Rao Desai ten minutes from time got Goa back in the game.
But just when the visitors seemed to be staring at their seventh draw of the campaign, Pearson tucked in a Sameehg Doutie square pass to snap a four-game winless streak and move to second spot in the points table.
The frame rescued Goa twice with marquee player Helder Postiga and Doutie disturbing the vertical in each half. Robert Lalthlamuana almost scored an own goal by deflecting a corner onto the post.
Both teams made three changes. For Kolkata Henrique Sereno, Keegan Pereira and Lalrindika Ralte made way for Robert, Tiri and Abhinash Ruidas while Goa's Robin Singh, Raju Gaikwad and Sanjay Balmuchu sat out for Rafael Dumas, Trindade Goncalves and Jofre Golzalez.
Doutie missed the game due to injury while Iain Hume was kept on the bench again.
ATK started the better side with Belencoso, Javi Lara and Pearson wasting good chances. At the other end the spluttering hosts could only muster a long range effort from Jofre after falling behind in the 28th minute.
Abhinash Ruidas's floater found Belencoso unmarked inside the box with the striker making no mistake to nod home from close.
The visitors could have been two-nil up inside the first half had Postiga's shot not come off the crosspiece in the last five minutes before the breather.
Goa almost drew level minutes after the break when Robert miscued Mandar Rao Desai corner onto his own post.
Minutes later, Postiga tried his luck from outside the box with a low drive which Laxmikant Kattimani managed to parry behind for a corner.
The tide was against Goa and with time running out Zico ringed in a few changes bringing in striker Robin for defender Keenan Almeida. The 2015 finalists strung together a flurry of attacks with the match on its last legs, and it took a moment of brilliance from Mandar to reap the dividents.
The talented winger aimed at the far post firing a crisp grounder through the legs of Pritam Kotal and into the bottom far corner leaving Debjit with no chance.
Doutie was brought on in place of Postiga immediately but Goa were hell-bent on holding on to the scoreline and go for the kill. Gregory Arnolin acrobatically cleared a ball from inside his box underlining the intent of the blue shirts.
Doutie almost won it for the away side but the crosspiece came in his way.
But just when things looked over, Pearson got on the end of some great spadework by Doutie on the counter down the right channel to square the ball for the Scottish.