ATK Mohun Bagan became the second team to reach the 2021 Indian Super League (ISL) finals after they beat NorthEast United FC 3-2 over two legs of the semi-final. The Mariners played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg before cruising to a 2-1 win in the second leg.
David Williams dashed past Mashoor Shereef and Ashutosh Mehta to find himself in a one-on-one position with NorthEast United FC's goalkeeper. The Aussie made no error in slamming the ball home and giving ATK Mohun Bagan the lead in the 38th minute.
There was more to come as Manvir Singh sprinted down the right-wing, leaving the NorthEast United FC defenders behind. The Indian international ended his run with a sharp left-footed shot that doubled ATK Mohun Bagan's in the 68th minute.
VP Suhair pulled a goal back for the Highlanders but it proved inconsequential in the larger scheme of things.
ATK Mohun Bagan had come out all guns blazing in the first half, registering 16 shots in the opening forty-five minutes. When asked whether the earlier intensity was planned, Antonio Habas replied:
"The idea was to win the match. We didn't want to go to extra time. Then, all the players get tired. There is too much humidity. It will be tough for them to recover. For that, the team had to score definitely in the first 45 minutes."
NorthEast United FC made things tough for ATK Mohun Bagan after the change of sides, but the Mariners still came out on top. Heaping praises on the opponent, Habas said:
"NorthEast (United FC) had a fantastic season. They had strong players in defense. Their midfielders are also good. It is not easy for any team to win against them. But, today we were superior and deserved the victory."
"Last season we won the league and now we are in the final" - ATK Mohun Bagan coach Antonio Habas
Antonio Habas has won the ISL title twice with ATK, in 2014 and 2020. The Spaniard will now be looking to add a third trophy to his collection.
"I want to recover the players and analyze the situation. One thing about the team is that it is very competitive. When I joined, the team was in 9th and 6th position. In the last season, we won the league and now we are in the final. The club has to grow everyday," Habas concluded.
ATK Mohun Bagan faces Mumbai City FC in the 2021 ISL finals on 13th March.