ATK reached the summit of the Indian Super League points table with a clinical 2-0 win against FC Goa at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. After Pritam Kotal opened the scoring in the 47th minute, Jayesh Rane sealed the deal in the dying minutes of the game to ensure three points for the hosts.
The game started off on a lively note with ATK pressing high to ensure that FC Goa were not comfortable with possession. However, the first major chance of the game came up when Ferran Corominas was brought down by Sumit Rathi in the 12th minute. Yet, Uzbekistan referee Sherzod Kasimov failed to notice any mistake and waved the play on.
The match turned a little scratchy later on but ATK fluffed whatever opportunity that came to them in the first half. Both Jobby Justin and Victor Mongil were guilty of not directing easy heading opportunities to put ATK ahead.
Eventually, ATK managed to find some precision in the 47th minute when Pritam Kotal made a superbly timed run into the box with Roy Krishna finding him with a delightful cross. The move started off with Javi Hernandez making good use of a free-kick to find Krishna's run on the left flank. This goal ensured that the game opened up a bit with FC Goa trying to be more aggressive but the quality to create chances through the middle was missing.
In the end, Jayesh Rane ensured that FC Goa wouldn't have any chance of making a comeback when he poked Roy Krishna's low cross into the back of the net. Only a few minutes earlier, Rane had missed a simple tap-in off a move which looked like a carbon copy to the one that ensured the second goal.
Not only did this win help ATK reach the top of the table but the result also ensured that the Asian Champions League (ACL) spot is still up for grabs. At least for now, it doesn't seem like any team wants to pull away from the competition. On the same note, find out why FC Goa failed to even take one point away from Kolkata.
#3 ATK take their chances and defend stoutly
In the first half, the match was pretty scrappy with both ATK and FC Goa fighting hard to get a foothold. Although the hosts pressed high during the initial 10-15 minutes to trouble FC Goa, there was no clear-cut opportunity to pounce upon. Even when Jobby Justin and Victor Mongil got easy opportunities in the 25th and 45th minutes respectively, they failed to direct their headers to put ATK ahead in the first half.
However, ATK finally put themselves ahead in the 47th minute when an unmarked Pritam Kotal powered his header past a helpless Mohammad Nawaz. The move came to fruition with Javi Hernandez finding Roy Krishna with his free-kick who then slipped in a superb cross to find Kotal in the 18-yard box.
This ATK goal ensured that FC Goa tried to become more expansive with their gameplay but the visitors still couldn't find an opening on their own. In fact, it was only ATK who got the easiest chance of the game in the 81st minute when Roy Krishna delivered a low cross only for Jayesh Rane to miss an open goal in order to nominate himself for the 'Miss of the season' award.
The midfielder, however, redeemed himself seven minutes by poking the ball past Mohammad Nawaz after Roy Krishna manufactured a move that was so similar to the one that Rane missed earlier.
Apart from their attacking ventures, ATK also did well to limit FC Goa's chances. In fact, Goa didn't even one shot on target in the first half. FC Goa had to be mostly satisfied with long-range shots from the likes of Manvir Singh and Lenny Rodrigues which hardly troubled Arindam Bhattacharya.
#2 A potential penalty that could have unfolded an entirely different match
It was in the 12th minute when Ferran Corominas was brought down by Sumit Rathi after the prolific Spaniard had made an excellent run into the penalty box. Rathi didn't get any touch on the ball with him only managing to catch Corominas' ankle in what was a poor challenge. Although the duo of Ferran Corominas and Hugo Boumous appealed for a penalty, the referee Sherzod Kasimov didn't seem to have any of it even after positioning himself in an area of close proximity during the move.
If FC Goa were rightfully awarded the penalty, the visitors could have very well taken something from this match. After all, the visitors were surprisingly content with sitting back to wait for a potential opening later on in the game. In fact, even the likes of Hugo Boumous and Manvir Singh dropped very deep to do some defensive work which is not something those two are known for. In this situation, an early goal could have allowed FC Goa to try and maintain their defensive shape for a longer period of time.
While one could argue that Corominas' tendency to earn easy penalties could have had a say in referee Kasimov's final decision, there are no doubts that the ATK got away with a nailed-on penalty.
#1 FC Goa miss the services of Brandon Fernandes and Jackichand Singh
The Gaurs really felt the absence of two key performers in the form of Brandon Fernandes and Jackichand Singh who have worked their socks off on the left and right flanks respectively.
The duo have usually hugged the by-line and produced superb low crosses for the likes of Ferran Corominas and Hugo Boumous throughout this season. With both the wingers missing, their replacements Manvir Singh and Len Doungel couldn't do the job on the night. Make no mistake, Manvir and Doungel worked really hard but the end product is something that was missing big time. Additionally, Brandon Fernandes is also a luxury to have during set-pieces with his inch-perfect delivery resulting in most of his five assists this season.
Due to these reasons, FC Goa were hardly able to penetrate through ATK's defence with only Hugo Boumous managing to cause some trouble during a small ten-minute passage in the second half. The attacking midfielder even created three chances like the one in the 68th minute when he went down the left flank and found Len Doungel in the box but the Manipuri failed to make the most out of the opportunity.Published 18 Jan 2020, 22:54 IST