The hosts began sharply but they were soon pegged back by the visitors who kept pushing and probing incessantly. Inevitably, the breakthrough came in the 29th minute when Pronay Halder finished off a flowing move.
14 minutes later, Michael Soosairaj caressed the ball into the back of the net from the left edge of the penalty area as ATK went into the break with a two-goal cushion firmly in their bag.
After the restart, the Islanders threw everything they had at the visitors but they weren’t able to breach a stubborn defence as Antonio Habas’ troops kept them at bay and recorded another clean sheet.
Here is a look at the reasons why ATK won the encounter.
#3 ATK rip Mumbai City FC to shreds in a breath-taking first half
ATK began the encounter slightly on the back foot as the hosts started in the ascendancy and carved out a couple of presentable openings. However, the Islanders failed to make the net ripple, meaning that they handed the visitors the initiative as the half progressed.
Subsequently, ATK started winning each tussle in midfield and also looked extremely bright in transition situations. Jayesh Rane and Mandi broke up play efficiently whereas Javi Hernandez formed the requisite link between midfield and attack.
Up front, Mumbai failed to cope with David Williams and Roy Krishna’s movement throughout the opening 45 minutes as the pair fashioned numerous chances for their teammates.
Additionally, ATK’s build-up play was immensely slick as the pinged the ball from side to side and rarely took an extra touch on the ball.
Consequently, the Islanders were forced to throw extra bodies forward in search of a goal, thereby leaving gaps at the back, spaces that were duly exploited by ATK.
For the first goal, Krishna won the ball in between the lines and turned before picking out Williams expertly. The Australian then ran clear of Pratik, before he squared the ball for the onrushing Halder. The Indian did the rest and slotted the ball into the back of the net.
A few minutes later, Krishna again got the better of the defenders from an aerial ball and headed it into the path of Soosairaj. The latter cut inside his marker and subtly placed the ball into the far corner, leaving Amrinder Singh with no chance.
Thus, through the course of the first period, the visitors had showcased the cutting edge that has helped them scale the upper peaks of the ISL table. And, while they performed brilliantly after the break too, they set the tone for a positive result early in the encounter.
#2 Mumbai left to rue their missed opportunities
Over the past fortnight, Mumbai City FC have been clinical in front of goal and that has enabled them to string together three consecutive victories, despite being under the cosh for large swathes against Bengaluru FC and Hyderabad FC. However, rather unfortunately, that trait failed to come to the fore on Saturday, meaning that they passed up whatever chances they created for themselves.
Early in the first half, Diego Carlos saw his shot saved by Arindam Bhattacharja whereas Mohamed Larbi also spurned a wonderful opportunity when he lashed his strike wide from inside the box.
A few minutes later, Modou Sougou missed the Islanders’ best opportunity of the period when he tamely found the keeper’s midriff when accorded space near the penalty spot.
The hosts’ propensity to misfire continued in the second half too as they failed to find the requisite conviction in the final third, meaning that they wasted several promising positions.
Mumbai’s bad day at the office was embodied by Serge Kevyn’s shocking miss in the final ten minutes when he contrived to head wide from inside the six-yard box.
And, though ATK put their bodies on the line to prevent the Islanders from making the net ripple, the home side certainly didn’t cover themselves in any glory on the offensive front.
Before the game, Mumbai were in high spirits, especially after potential watershed moments against Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC. Yet, after such a result on Saturday, they might have to go back to the drawing board, again.
#1 ATK execute their game-plan to the tee
Antonio Habas sprung a surprise at the start of the encounter when he decided to field four at the back. The ploy also meant that Javi functioned in the ‘hole’, a tactic that could’ve been aimed at exploiting Mumbai’s tendency to allow midfield runners into the final third.
And, throughout the first half, that was a recurring pattern as the likes of Halder, Javi, Jayesh, Krishna and Williams caused the hosts all sorts of problems.
On countless occasions, either of Krishna or Williams dropped deep, thereby forcing one of the central defenders to come into the middle third. In the process, space was created in the defensive line. The visitors capitalized on those areas as their midfielders went beyond their strikers and created confusion in the Mumbai rear-guard.
Both goals were a direct result of midfield runners not being tracked, thereby signalling that ATK’s game-plan worked a charm offensively.
On the defensive front, the visitors were content to allow the hosts to whip in crosses from the flanks, courtesy the Kolkata-based outfit’s superiority in the air. And, though there were a couple of shaky moments, they largely kept the Islanders quiet.
Also, ATK played with three in midfield, meaning that they often marked the hosts’ midfielders diligently, meaning that they didn’t allow Larbi and Raynier Fernandes the time to scythe through the defence.
In the nascent stages of the 2019-20 season, there had been question marks over ATK’s ability to hold their own against the premier sides in the competition. Yet, with each passing game, they are only strengthening their credentials and proving that they are indeed a force to be reckoned with.