ATK Mohun Bagan squandered a one-goal lead in the dying moments of the game to settle for a draw against NorthEast United FC in the first leg of their semi-final clash in the Indian Super League (ISL). The two sides will face each other in the reverse fixture on Tuesday after Saturdays's 1-1 result.
David Williams drew first blood for ATK Mohun Bagan after he rounded NorthEast United FC's Nim Dorjee Tamang and slammed the ball home in the 34th minute. At the time, it looked as though the Mariners would walk away with a victory. However, Idrissa Sylla spoiled the party late in the game with an equalizer.
Despite conceding the lead, ATK Mohun Bagan's coach Antonio Habas is satisfied with the draw. The two-time ISL-winning coach believes that it is important to not be on the back foot in the reverse leg.
"In football, the semi-final is about two matches. The most important thing is not to lose the first match. Every day, it's not possible to win 4-0. But I don't remember a lot of teams winning by big margins (in semi-finals)," said Antonio Habas.
ATK Mohun Bagan looked good while going forward but lacked the cutting edge in the final third and could muster only two shots on target. When asked to dissect his team's performance, Habas replied:
"I think we played better than the opponent for the 75 minutes. After that, there were so many fouls, throw-ins, and free-kicks. I don't remember giving chances to the opponent."
It is not necessary to win the first match: ATK Mohun Bagan coach Antonio Habas
In 2014, Antonio Habas' ATK shared the spoils in a goalless draw against FC Goa over the two legs and reached the final via penalty shootout. The Kolkata-based side lost 3-0 to Chennaiyin FC in the first leg the following season and couldn't make up the deficit in the reverse fixture.
"It is not necessary to win the first match. Sometimes, a team wins the first match 3-0 and then gets eliminated. There are two matches, not one," explained Habas.