ATK Mohun Bagan returned to winning ways with a resilient 1-0 victory against defending champions Hyderabad FC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday, November 26.
The 11th-minute goal from Hugo Boumous was all it took for Juan Ferrando's side to seal the three points.
The Mariners were dealt a major blow prior to the game when Joni Kauko was ruled out for an extended period of time.Juan Ferrando deputized Carl McHugh in the Finnish midfielder's role.
Meanwhile, the Nizams made a couple of changes, with Gurmeet Singh starting ahead of Anuj Kumar between the posts. Hitesh Sharma, Borja Herrera, and Reagan Singh found themselves in the starting lineup.
Right from the opening exchanges, ATKMB looked like the side on top as Liston Colaco and Ashique Kuruniyan hunted down HFC's flanks. Juan Ferrando and Co. didn't have to wait long for their rewards.
In the 11th minute itself, the Green and Maroon Brigade broke the deadlock through Hugo Boumous. Liston Colaco, despite being fouled, played the Spanish midfielder down the right channel.
Boumous was halted in his step by the HFC defenders but smartly found Ashique Kuruniyan on the left. Boumous scored after the former Bengaluru FC player darted into the box and delivered a low cross into the back post.
Minutes later, ATKMB had an opportunity to double their lead after Liston Colaco went through on goal. Instead of trying to lob the keeper, Colaco directs it straight at Gurmeet Singh, who makes himself big and denies the second goal.
Falling behind so early on, the Nizams had their work cut out, but they didn't look overtly anxious yet. They slowly started to grow into the game and dominate possession.
Although they got into the opposition's final third, they lacked the final product. The defending champions ended the half without a single effort on target, despite creating some half-chances.
ATK Mohun Bagan smartly neutralize a frantic Hyderabad FC side
Coming out after the break, Manolo Marquez opted to shake things up and bring on Halicharan Narzary in place of Reagan Singh. But it was ATKMB who yet again had the upper hand in the opening exchanges of the second half.
In the 51st minute, Liston Colaco had an opportunity to double the lead when he got into the box and unleashed a curling effort, but Gurmeet Singh punched it away.
But Hyderabad continued to push ahead to restore parity. As the game boiled down to the final quarter, the Nizams grew desperate and took off Borja Herrera to fit in another striker, Joel Chianese.
Tempers were flaring in the dying moments of the game, and the referee had to come in the middle to calm things down.
The loss means Hyderabad FC have now slumped to two consecutive losses and are second in the league standings.
Mumbai City FC are now the undisputed league leaders going into the next matchday. The Mariners have jumped to fourth with 15 points from seven games.