ISL 3: ATK confirm semis spot with a draw against Blasters
Atletico de Kolkata and Kerala Blasters played out a tame 1-1 draw that confirmed the Kolkata side’s berth in the semis while the Blasters would now need to depend on other results to confirm their place in the play-offs.
Two goals within the first 20 minutes were all that was needed to confirm ATK’s play-off seat. CK Vineeth’s early goal was cancelled out by Stephen Pearson’s strike just ten minutes later as the match ended with this score line after ninety minutes.
ATK started on a high note when in the fifth minute Javi Lara’s cross after a run down the right was calmly placed past the keeper only to be declared offside by the referee.
But eight minutes later, Visitors went ahead as CK Vineeth scored his fourth goal of campaign to make it 1-0. Mehtab Hossein’s long cross from left to the far corner was spilled by a hapless Debjit Majumder which saw Hengbart take advantage and flick it across goal towards a free Vineeth who headed it into the empty net.
Soon ATK began to get back into the game with forays of attack. In the 17th minute, Postiga did well to fox Hengbart but his shot was just wide of goal.
But in the 18th minute, ATK were back on level terms when Iain Hume, from the edge of the box, played a lovely flick to Postiga down the right. The Portuguese played a first time ball onto the path of Pearson who had beaten his marker sidefooted the ball past an advancing Stack to make it 1-1.
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While for ATK Postiga came close in scoring a second goal, for Blasters, Belfort’s attempted curl into the far corner was read well by Debjit. Both teams had few more chances before the break but failed to make it count as they headed into tunnel with score 1-1.
With draw being enough for Atletico to reach semi finals, Jose Molina’s men began second half in a rather passive fashion where despite enjoying majority of the ball possession the home side failed to break down Kerala’s defence.
But at the hour mark, ATK had a big chance when a long ball sent in from the defense by Tiri found Abniash Ruidas through on goal with the entire Kerala defense caught napping and only the goalkeeper to beat but Sandesh Jhingan showed tremendous acceleration to recover and clear the ball for a corner and fend off the danger.
Kerala Blasters had a chance of their own in the 77th minute when an inswinging corner from Mehtab Hossein found Rafi with an attempted bicycle kick that was blocked by an alert Pritam Kotal before it could give any problem for the home side.
The match turned into a drab affair in the final parts of the game as neither team seemed interested to go forward and risk losing a point on counter. The game eventually ended with a 1-1 result Atletico de Kolkata and confirming their play-offs spot.
Kerala Blasters will now look at NorthEast losing against Delhi Dynamos to fix their place with their last game against the highlanders having little significance.
Atletico De Kolkata 1 (Pearson 18’) – 1 Kerala Blasters FC (Vineeth 8’)