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Indian football: ATK end NorthEast's unbeaten run

Source: PTI
December 07, 2019 22:37 IST
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ATK's Roy Krishna netted a brace including an injury time winner in the ISL match against NorthEast United FC on Sunday

IMAGE: ATK's Roy Krishna netted a brace including an injury time winner in the ISL match against NorthEast United FC on Sunday. Photograph: ISL/Twitter

ATK reclaimed the top spot in the Indian Super League with an impressive 3-0 win over NorthEast United FC in Guwahati on Saturday.

An early strike from David Williams (11th) and a brace from Roy Krishna (35th, 90+4) were enough for Antonio Habas's team to hand NorthEast their first defeat of the season.

With Saturday's double strike, Krishna took his goal tally to six to become the leading goal scorer this season.

 

With their fourth win of the campaign, ATK have now 14 points from seven matches while NorthEast, who have 10 points, are at fourth spot.

Star striker Asamoah Gyan could have put NorthEast ahead within two minutes when he chested down a brilliant lob over the defence by Rakesh Pradhan but the Ghanaian striker's shot was kept out well by goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya.

Minutes after that big chance, Gyan was forced off the field due to an injury with Maximiliano Barriero coming on as the replacement.

In the 11th minute, a lapse in concentration by the hosts' defence allowed Williams to pounce and give ATK the lead.

Prabir Das ran down the flank unmarked to latch onto Edu Garcia's through-ball and found Williams at the far post with a cross. The in-form forward leapt over his marker to head the ball into the net.

Boosted by the opener, ATK threatened the hosts with quick counters and doubled their lead before the break.

Williams delivered an excellent ball for Krishna who attacked the space behind the visitors' defence, dropped his shoulder to get past the last defender and slotted past Subhasish Roy.

Habas's team continued to pose a threat after the change of ends. Minutes into the second half, Krishna missed a chance to score his second goal when Williams set him up in front of the goal following a two-on-one scenario. The striker sent his effort wide with an empty net in front.

The creator then almost turned scorer when Williams got to Das's pass into the box and unleashed a powerful strike that required strong hands from the goalkeeper.

NorthEast found it hard to create clear-cut opportunities. Martin Chaves' 30-yard pile driver flew harmlessly over the bar. Lalthathanga Khwalhring's cross into the box found Nikhil Kadam with just the keeper to beat, but the winger failed to control his header.

The two-goal cushion allowed ATK to drop deeper and make it harder for their opponents, whose lack of final touch meant there was no comeback in store for the home crowd. 

ATK added another goal in injury time. Substitute Jobby Justin released Krishna into the space behind the backline and the Fijian striker's neat finish found the net.

Juan Mera's late equaliser saves East Bengal against Punjab FC

Last season runners-up East Bengal needed a late equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw against a gritty Punjab FC side in an I-League match the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana on Saturday.

Danilo Augusto put the home side ahead in the 13th minute and it looked like Punjab FC would run away with all the three points from the match before Juan Mera saved the day for the Kolkata giants with an 84th minute equaliser.

Punjab FC coach Yan Law made a host of changes from his side that lost 0-3 to Churchill Brothers FC in their opening match of the season. Kiran Kumar Limbu started at the goal instead of Bhaskar Roy.

Samuel Shadap was slotted into the backline in place of the suspended Anwar Ali. Punjab captain Sanju Pradhan retained his place in the line-up with Bali Gagandeep getting the nod upfront, starting with Aser Dipanda Dicka.

East Bengal coach Alejandro Menendez Garcia named a largely unchanged line-up from his side that drew 1-1 at home against Real Kashmir FC, with the only change being Samad Ali Mallick starting in place of Kamalpreet Singh in defence.

The opening minutes of the match was a cagey affair between the two sides. East Bengal pressed hard from the beginning and had better exchanges and opportunities in the final third.

The Kolkata side had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 10th minute when Pintu Mahaha delivered an inch-perfect cross into the box for Jaime Santos Colado, who was completely unmarked. The Spaniard triggered a shot from point-blank range, but it was kept out brilliantly by the outstretched legs of Kumar Limbu at the Punjab goal.

In the 13th minute, however, Punjab took the lead as Augusto headed in from a Sanju Pradhan's free-kick, completely catching the East Bengal defence off guard.

The Red and Golds tried making inroads and pushed for an equaliser but the Punjab side were up to the task as they went in at half-time a goal in front.

In the second half, Punjab kept defending in compact spaces as East Bengal struggled to penetrate through the final third, often finding it difficult to get out of their own half.

The equaliser, however, did arrive six minutes from regulation time when Juan Mera took a seemingly speculative attempt on goal from outside the box and the Spaniard was rewarded as his effort found the back of the net to make it 1-1.

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