ATK enter their Second ISL Final in Three Years
13th December 2016
Venue: Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai
Mumbai City FC Starting XI: Amrinder Singh(GK), Gerson Vieira, Anwar Ali, Krisztian Vadocz, Leo Costa, Sunil Chhetri(C), Sony Norde, Lucian Goian, Matias Defederico, Lalhmangaihsanga Ralte, Sehnaj Singh.
Atletico de Kolkata Starting XI: Debjit Majumder(GK), Henrique Fonseca Sereno, Jose Luis Espinosa Arroyo, Borja Fernandez(C), Pritam Kotal, Javier Lara Grande, Robert Lalthlamuana, Bidyananda Singh, Juan Belencoso, Stephen Paul Pearson, Abinash Ruidas.
The most consistent team ever in the short history of the Indian Super League, ATK went into the second leg of the Semi Finals with the advantage of a goal over their opponents, Mumbai City FC.
With a fantastic display of attacking football at home in the first leg where Ralte's wonder header and Hume's brace gifted ATK the lead, the team went into the game with hopes galore, while Mumbai City FC were prepping up their attack to challenge ATK's solid defence without the service of their marquee player, Diego Forlan, who was shown the red card in the first leg.
Jose Molina fielded a completely different team with a whooping nine changes compared to the winning combination of the first leg. Debjit Majumdar came back to take position in front of goal replacing Dani Mallo while the strong defensive barrier consisted of Sereno, Tiri, Robert Lalthlamuana and Pritam Kotal, as they replace Pereira, Prabir Das and Kingshuk Debnath. The midfield saw Stephen Pearson returning to join hands with captain Borja Fernandez, in the place of Jewel Raja. Abinash Ruidas and Bidyananda Singh were given the responsibility of either flanks in the place of Ralte and Sameehg Doutie. Belencoso lead the attack supported by Javi Lara as both Helder Postiga and Iain Hume were rested.
The match started on even terms with Mumbai getting a number of opportunities to score from corner kicks. In the third minute, Norde's corner found Defederico in front of goal but he was ruled offside. Belencoso had a chance to capitalise on a through ball but Amrinder was fast on his feet and collected.
The best chance for Mumbai to equalise on aggregates came in the 7th minute when Goian's cross went over Sereno's head and found Sunil Chettri. With a great run and just the goalkeeper to beat, Sunil sent a shot at goal from the edge of the box only to find the brilliance of Debjit blocking his effort.
Norde made two attempts at goal only to be ruled offside or blocked. ATK came back by building a number of chances but Borja's final shot went off target. Javi Lara also had a chance as he circled past defenders but saw his shot hit the side net.
Abinash showed his brilliance again as he sent in two fantastic crosses inside the box from the left flank. Belencoso failed to reach the ball in the first attempt while Bidyananda Singh failed to make good contact through his acrobatic attempt in the second. However, in the very next minute Bidyananda went down in pain holding his leg and had to be escorted out of the ground for medical attention.
ATK's first substitution happened in the 25th minute as Lalrindika Ralte replaced the injured Bidyananda Singh. Ruidas again added flavour to the attack through his crosses. The first one deflected and fell in front of Ralte, whose volley unfortunately got blocked by Mumbai while Belencoso failed to find the back of the net in the second one.
Mumbai managed to come back into the game when they were awarded a free kick from a Robert Lalthlamuana foul, for which he was shown a yellow card. While the free kick was headed away to safety, Mumbai's Vadocz missed a good chance when he mis-hit a corner ball.
Disaster struck ATK in the 43rd minute. Robert Lalthlamuana slipped and fouled the Mumbai striker but was left shocked when the referee reached out to his pocket to show him the second yellow card. Thus, he had to leave the field after being shown a red leaving ATK with 10 men to play for the next half.
Three minutes were added to the first half which saw Mumbai attempting two solid attempts at goal. While, Viera's powerful shot was collected by Debjit, Defederico missed the target by some distance.
Half Time Scoreline: Mumbai City FC 0 : 0 Atletico de Kolkata
First half statistics:
Possession: MUM 48% : 52% ATK
Shots on Goal: MUM 2 : 1 ATK
Number of Passes: MUM 184 : 211 ATK
Passing Accuracy: MUM 58% : 61% ATK
To bring more depth in the defense after Robert's dismissal, Molina substituted Ruidas to bring in Keegan Pereira. Mumbai started with a great flair. While Norde's shot was off target, Defederico's shot and Anwar's cross was both denied by Debjit. Mumbai's substitute Jackichand Singh had a chance to take the lead but his last touch wasn't accurate.
ATK built a good chance at the 60th minute but unfortunately Belencoso was caught off-guard as Javi Lara's pass just went past him. The attacking index read 88% in the favour of Mumbai by the 65th minute.
ATK got their first corner of the match in the 71st minute, but Lara's cross was fisted away to safety by Amrinder. The keeper came back to collect another ATK attempt from the free kick position. Pearson had a golden chance in the 76th minute, when Lara's shot from a free kick set piece found him unguarded at the extreme left of the net, but he failed to keep his header down.
By the 85th minute, Ralte joined the attack with two attempts at goal but missed by inches. ATK had a close shave at the second last minute when Mumbai managed to get past the defenders to build up a chance but Chhetri's header had no direction.
With four minutes being added in the final half, Molina brought in Doutie to replace Javi Lara. Doutie and Belencoso managed to keep Mumbai at bay with deft blocking and earned a free kick as well. Mumbai's last attempt at goal came from the feet of Goian, but his powerful shot was saved by the superb Debjit again.
The whistle blew within seconds taking ATK to the Finals for the second time in three years. However, an ugly brawl broke out after the final whistle when the Mumbai players attacked Belencoso, Ralte and Kotal who was left bleeding, leading to Belencoso and Mumbai's Thiago Cunha receiving red cards.
Full Time Scoreline: Mumbai City FC 0 : 0 Atletico de Kolkata
Full Time statistics:
Possession: MUM 56% : 44% ATK
Shots on Goal: MUM 4 : 1 ATK
Number of Passes: MUM 457 : 318 ATK
Passing Accuracy: MUM 68% :59% ATK
In the after match Awards, ATK bagged five awards:
Club Award: Atletico de Kolkata & Mumbai City FC
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Borja Fernandez
Swift Moment of the Match : Debjit Majumder
Emerging Player of the Match Award : Pritam Kotal
The Hero of the Match : Javi Lara
ATK will face either Kerala Blasters FC or Delhi Dynamos FC in the Finals which will take place on 18th December at Kochi.
Do book your seats in front of the TV this Sunday and let's win the Championship again.
Till then, keep chanting #AamarBukeyATK!