ATK marches forward to the ISL 2016 Semi-Finals
3rd December 2016
Venue: Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, Kolkata
ATK Starting XI: Dani Mallo(GK), Jose Luis Espinosa Arroyo, Kinshuk Debnath, Prabir Das, Keegan Pereira, Jewel Raja Shaikh, Javier Lara Grande, Bidyananda Singh, Ofentse Nato(C), Abinash Ruidas, Juan Belencoso.
FC Pune City Starting XI: Arindam Bhattacharya(GK), Rahul Shankar Bheke, Eduardo Ferreira, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Narayan Das, Jonatan Lucca, Sanju Pradhan, Mohamed Sissoko(C), Lenny Rodrigues, Momar Ndoye, Anibal Zurdo Rodriguez
With a place already booked in the Semi-finals of ISL 2016, ATK came into the match with the vision to end the league stage of this edition on a high, when they face FC Pune City. ATK came back from a draw in the previous game against Kerala Blasters FC which booked their place in the Semis, while FC Pune City came after a 2-1 defeat against the same opponents and with no scope of reaching the Semis for this season.
Jose Molina fielded a new look team in the same 4-2-3-1 formation, with a total of eight changes made to the Starting line-up. Dani Mallo replaced Debjit Majumdar to make his first appearance of the season for ATK. He was aided in the back by Tiri who partnered up with Prabir Dar, Keegan Pereira and Kingshuk Debnath in the place of Pritam Kotal, Robert Lalthlamuana and Arnab Mondal. The midfield saw the captain of the evening, Ofentse Nato pairing up with Jewel Raja having replaced Borja Fernandez and Stephen Pearson. Abinash Ruidas and Bidyananda Singh took responsibility of either flanks while Javi Lara stood behind Juan Belencoso to lead the attack.
From the very first minute, ATK went all out into attacking mode. Bidyananda Singh sent in a good cross inside the box from the right but Arindam managed to collect it swiftly. In the 4th minute, ATK was awarded a free kick for a foul on Ruidas and Javi Lara took position. He sent a wonderful shot towards goal but Arindam managed to dive and fist it away for a corner.
In the next few minutes, Jewel Raja and Javi Lara both came forward with attempted efforts at goal. In the 12th minute, ATK had a great chance when Nato went past his marker and lodged a cracker of a shot towards goal only to find it graze the outer side of the post and go out of play.
In the next few minutes, Jewel Raja and Javi Lara both again came up with shots at goal but Arindam collected one while fisitng the other away to safety. By the 20th minute, the attack index read 86% in the favour of ATK, such was the dominance.
At the 20th minute mark, ATK came extremely close to score when Ruidas send in a perfect cross for Belencoso in front of goal, but the latter's header unfortunately hit the side net. Just 2 minutes late, Belencoso made another mistake when he tried to volley in Javi Lara's pass inside the goal but hit it off target.
On the other hand, Pune tried to get back into the game through their marquee player, Sissoko who attempted a long distance attempt at goal but Dani Mallo collected it comfortably. By the 35th minute, the attacking index read 67% in the favour of ATK.
The next 10 minutes saw another flurry of chances for ATK. Bidyananda and Abinash were on fire on either flanks as they kept sending good crosses inside the vulnerable Pune box while Javi Lara and Nato kept the play afloat in the midfield. Pune counter-attacked with Ndoye and Lucca taking shots at goal but to no avail.
A minute was added to the first half of play, with no further action occurring on either ends.
The scoreline read:
Atletico de Kolkata 0 : 0 FC Pune City
The second half started on even term with most of the play happening in the midfield. Ndoye came close while trying to lodge in a through pass but the defenders intercepted well. ATK again had a wonderful chance when Javi Lara sent in a great cross to Belencoso who stood unguarded in front of goal. However, he failed to make contact with the ball.
Pune came back with two consecutive good attempts at goal. For the first attempt, Debnath came forward to deny Ndoye a free shot at goal while in the second, Anibal missed a clear chance to head in a corner ball as he sent it way over the bar.
ATK counter attacked swiftly with Ruidas, Bidyananda and Lara all coming forward to press but Arindam held his ground to deny every time. By the 65th minute, the attack index read 59% in the favour of Pune.
The next 10 minutes saw Pune getting their groove back, but neither of their shots could get past Dani Mallo, who stood in front of goal like a rock solid wall. Molina made his first substitution in the 73rd minute when Stephen Pearson replaced Jewel Raja. Pearson managed to open up a wonderful chance as soon as he entered when his shot a goal deflected off Arindam to fall in front of Belencoso. Belencoso had an open goal to send it in but failed to make the right contact and sent the ball flying over.
Molina made two successive substitutions. Iain Hume replaced Ofentse Nato and Bikramjit Singh replaced Bidyananda Singh. Another chance opened up in the 88th minute from a corner kick by Lara. His ball found Belencoso in the middle but his header again hit the side net.
Three minutes of injury time was added to the final half of play. ATK made a last attempt at goal when Hume tried to head in Javi Lara's cross but missed the target by inches.
FT Scoreline: Atletico de Kolkata 0 : 0 FC Pune City
Full Time stats:
Possession: ATK 47% : 53% PUN
Shots on Goal: ATK 4 : 4 PUN
Crosses: ATK 27 : 11 PUN
Passing accuracy: ATK 66% : 71% PUN
Number of Passes: ATK 409 : 475 PUN
In the after match Awards, ATK received three awards:
Hero of the Match: Prabir Das
Winning Pass of the Match: Abinash Ruidas
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Bidyananda Singh
ATK at present, sits on the third position in the Points table and is the only team to have reached the Semi-Finals in every edition of the ISL. With two crucial match left in the league stage of the tournament, the opponents whom ATK will face in the Semis is yet to be decided.
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