ATK Mohun Bagan got the better of FC Goa by a 1-0 margin in the 30th match of the 2020-21 Indian Super League Season (ISL) at the Fatorda Stadium in Margao, Goa. With chances being few and far between for both teams, ATK Mohun Bagan scored the winning goal in the 85th minute as Roy Krishna successfully converted a penalty.
ATK Mohun Bagan frustrate FC Goa in the first half
Very few sides can neutralize the passing range of FC Goa but if there is one, it has to be ATK Mohun Bagan. After all, the master tactician Antonio Lopez Habas has strengthened the ATK Mohun Bagan defense to such an extent that the opponent teams find it hard to break through.
Habas welcomed back Tiri and Subhasish Bose in place of Sumit Rathi and Prabir Das as Carl McHugh moved back to his familiar defensive midfield role.
Although Roy Krishna played as the lone forward for ATK Mohun Bagan, Manvir Singh, David Williams, Jayesh Rane and Pronay Haldar all came up with a coordinated press. That disrupted FC Goa's Plan A of passing until an opening pops out.
The hard work paid off for ATK Mohun Bagan as the likes of Mohammad Nawaz and Edu Bedia were often caught dwelling on the ball. However, there were only a few chances for either side, with even a striker like Roy Krishna requiring the 28th minute of the game to get a decent shot.
Few minutes later, the Australian David Williams came closest to scoring a goal for ATK Mohun Bagan as he hit the woodwork from a strong left-footed strike. It was Carl McHugh who found Williams initially with a sensational diagonal ball. The forward moved crisply past FC Goa’s left-back Saviour Gama to take the shot.
Unlucky FC Goa go down to a Roy Krishna goal
Even in the second half, ATK Mohun Bagan remained compact until Alberto Noguera was left free in the box from an Alexander Romario Jesuraj cross. But the Spaniard couldn't make much out of the chance.
The game became a little more open after the 60-minute mark due to fatigue and substitutions. The duo of Jorge Ortiz Mendoza and Brandon Fernandes ensured that FC Goa moved the ball quicker in order to exploit some vacant spaces.
In fact, Jorge Ortiz was involved in a penalty appeal at the 80th-minute mark, but it was turned down. After playing a lovely one-two with Igor Angulo, Jorge Ortiz was one-on-one with Arindam Bhattacharya. But he went down after Carl McHugh pushed him from behind. Just four minutes later, it turned out to be anguish for FC Goa as Aiban Dohling brought down Roy Krishna with a poorly-timed tackle and this time the penalty was awarded.
The Fijian then oozed confidence as he struck the penalty past Mohammad Nawaz to give ATK Mohun Bagan the crucial lead. FC Goa poured men forwards in search of the equalizer and Saviour Gama almost came close with a long shot in the last minute of stoppage time.
But Arindam pushed it away for a corner. From that set-piece, Edu Bedia got a free header but he failed to find the target too. In the end, ATK Mohun Bagan held on for all three points.
ISL 2020-21, ATKMB vs FCG: Who was the Hero of the Match?
Irishman Carl McHugh was named the ‘Hero of the Match’ for his industrious performance in front of the four-man backline. McHugh should have paid a huge penalty for pushing Jorge Ortiz, but he deserved to be lauded otherwise for covering each blade of the field.
The presence of McHugh played a huge part in preventing Igor Angulo from making a massive impact on the game. McHugh made two clearances, one interception and three tackles, with a lot of that work coming in the final few minutes of the match.
The defensive midfielder’s importance was already evident in the previous season as the erstwhile ATK had looked a tough side to break down as long as he was fit. Antonio Lopez Habas will hope that McHugh can remain fit for the remainder of this season too and play an important part in leading ATK Mohun Bagan to a second consecutive ISL title.Published 17 Dec 2020, 00:32 IST