Atletico de Kolkata got their act right in the nick of time to humble crowd favourites FC Goa 4-2 in tie-breaker and advance to the final of the inaugural
Indian Super League.
Atletico de Kolkata will lock horns with Kerala Blasters FC in the summit showdown at the D Y Patil Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday.
The second leg semifinal between the two fierce rivals went into extra time after they were locked goal-less in the regulation time. With both teams failing to break the deadlock even in the 30 minutes of extra time, the game was decided via penalty shootout in which the visitors emerged winners.
The first leg semifinal between the two sides in Kolkata had ended in a goal-less stalemate.
Things panned out pretty much in the same manner before the Sourav Ganguly co-owned side edged past the hosts on penalties after playing out yet another drab draw in the 120 minutes of play.
While they failed to score in regulation and extra time, Atletico de Kolkata's Josemi, Mohammed Rafi, Jofre Mateu and Borja Fernandez were bang on target when it mattered most at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
For the Goa outfit, Andre Santos's spot-kick sailed over the bar while Haroon Amiri's effort struck the upright. Tolgay Ozbey and Clifford Miranda successfully converted but that was not enough.
Bruno Pinheiro returned from suspension for the home side while coach Zico also included Peter Carvalho in his starting XI. The duo replaced the injured Narayan Das and Youness Bengelloun.
Atletico de Kolkata coach Antonio Lopez Habas made two changes, bringing in Arnab Mondal and Baljit Sahni, who was coming off a one-game suspension. The visitors, though, were without Fikru Teferra.
The visitors had the first chance of the game when Jakub Podany was brought down by Gregory Arnolin, but the resultant free-kick by Josemi was off target. The home side had its share of chances too when Debabrata Roy laid one for Andre Santos at the far post in the seventh minute. The Brazilian pulled the ball back which was deflected by Ofentse Nato for Romeo Fernandes, but the Indian winger's effort found the side-netting.
The resurgent FC Goa, unbeaten in their last seven matches, looked determined to dominate the visitors in midfield in the first half, but could not translate the chances into goals.
The rival defenders were equal to the task even as Goa attacked on and off. And whenever they did get the better of the rival defence the Goans either directed their shots off target or failed to get past goalkeeper Edel Bete, who did well to make a diving save from Miroslav Slepicka.
The return of Bruno gave more solidity to the defence as they did not find much difficulty in negotiating the rival threat, which lacked sting in the absence of Fikru who is nursing injury.
The trend continued after the change of ends and Romeo Fernandes, who saw his attempt hit the side neting in the first half, nearly scored but goalkeeper Bete did well to keep the ball out of danger soon after resumption.
Bete once again came to his side's rescue midway in the second half to stop Andre Santos, from inside the box with his outstretched leg, to take the match into extra time. The visitors who looked dangerous on counter attacks nearly broke the deadlock but Jose Minguel Rey's freekick went inches over the bar.