ISL Final: ATK script history as they edge past Chennaiyin FC
- ATK won the encounter 3-1 to become the first side in the ISL to win the title thrice.
ATK held their nerve in the final at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda to edge past Chennaiyin FC 3-1 and become the first side in the ISL to win the title thrice.
ATK began the game with a bit of uncertainty and they were put under the cosh early as Chennaiyin surged into the ascendancy. In fact, the latter scythed through the former’s rear-guard a couple of times in the opening minutes and fashioned themselves good goal-scoring opportunities.
However, the Marina Machans were denied by a combination of excellent defending by Pritam Kotal and the cross-bar, in the 1st and 4th minute respectively. Nerijus Valskis, despite spurning chances to find the back of the net kept probing but failed to prize open ATK’s defence as Antonio Habas’ troops grew into the match.
Consequently, the 2014 champions created a shooting opportunity in the 6th minute, although Michael Soosairaj saw his strike flash past the far post.
Four minutes later though, ATK were rewarded when Roy Krishna raced down the left flank and pinged a pin-point cross into Javi Hernandez’s path. The Spaniard did the rest and thumped his volley beyond the goalkeeper.
Post the opener, Chennaiyin FC looked to impose their identity on the encounter by dominating possession. And, in the 27th minute, Valskis was presented with another opening in the box. However, he only managed to fire his shot straight at the keeper.
A minute before the half-hour mark, the Lithuanian drew another brilliant save out of Arindam Bhattacharya as the Marina Machans amped up the pressure. Unfortunately, though, they weren’t able to make the net bulge as ATK entered the tunnel boasting a one-goal cushion.
After the restart, the Kolkata-based outfit dented Chennaiyin FC’s charge early when Edu Garcia latched onto David Williams’ through ball and crashed the ball into the far corner from the left edge of the box.
In pursuit of the elusive goal, the Marina Machans piled men forward and their endeavours bore fruit in the 69th minute when Valskis pounced on Lallianzuala Chhangte’s pass to rifle the ball into the roof of the net.
Armed with renewed confidence, the Lithuanian proved to be a constant menace for ATK and could’ve bagged his brace in the 70th minute were it not for a smart save by Arindam at his near post.
And, seven minutes from time, the striker had another chance to add to his tally but he horribly mistimed his jump, meaning that he headed well wide of the target from Rafael Crivellaro’s cross.
In the dying embers of the encounter, ATK were put under severe strife but they held their nerve to put the result beyond doubt when Javi bagged his second after showing exemplary composure in second-half stoppage time.
In the process, the Marina Machans' remarkable fairy tale came crashing down to earth as Owen Coyle's charges were left ruing their profligacy in front of goal.Published 14 Mar 2020, 21:37 IST