Hero ISL witnesses its first draw

FC Goa vs Atlético de Kolkata ends 1-1 as Hero ISL witnesses its first draw.

FC Goa and Atlético de Kolkata share the spoils to make it four draws out of five when these two sides have met in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL). A first-half goal by Arata Izumi was cancelled out by a brilliant Keenan Almeida strike after the defending champions were reduced to 10 men with Baljit Sahni being given his marching orders. In a thoroughly entertaining clash between two of India’s footballing superpowers, Kolkata coach Antonio Habas will be happy to take a point home against a strong Goan side that will be ruing they didn’t make their man advantage count to take all three points.

As has been the case with this fixture in the past, the game got off to a cagey start with both sides in a battle for midfield supremacy. The first chance came the home side’s way in the 9th minute when an exquisite pass from former Atlético de Kolkata man Joffre found Reinaldo in the box. Reinaldo’s left-footed shot rattled the side netting as the home side announced their intentions.

Atlético de Kolkata would take the lead four minutes later to silence the home crowd. A great ball from the right, courtesy Javi Lara, was met by an expert side-foot volley from Izumi in what has to be one of the goals of the season so far. This would be the first goal conceded by Goa in their last six matches at home. The last time they conceded at Fatorda was when they were beaten 2-1 by Atlético de Kolkata in the corresponding fixture last season.

The Gaurs though were not about to go down quietly. A long range effort from Leo Moura almost sneaked into the Kolkata goal in the 21st minute. Romeo Fernandes would follow suit a minute later as the home side cranked up the pressure, which then saw another effort by Reinaldo fly just over the ATK goal in the 27thminute. Another shot in the 31st minute by captain Lucio was safely collected by the ATK keeper as the Goans piled on the pressure.

The visitors though could have gone up 2-0 in the 36th minute when Izumi should have had his second of the night. Kolkata’s opening goal-scorer, however, failed to shoot past the FC Goa keeper from a tight angle. Goa’s last shot of the half came in the 44th minute as the reigning champions went in at break with a slender 1-0 advantage.

The second half began with Goa on the front foot. A Joffre free-kick three minutes into the half was met with a powerful header from Lucio that brushed the ATK woodwork. Reinaldo’s first shot of the half came in the 56th minute as he dragged another left-footed effort wide.

The complexion of the match changed completely in the 63rd minute. Baljit Sahni had just been booked for an over-zealous tackle on Goa’s Gregory Arnolin. Sahni reacted aggressively to the referee’s decision and Arnolin confronting him. The 28-year-old Indian would go on to retaliate with an inexplicable head-butt on the FC Goa player resulting in the first red card of Hero ISL 2015. It would be all hands on deck from this point on for Atlético.

With the added incentive of playing against a 10-man Kolkata side, the Gaurs would begin to control possession and play the majority of the match in the Atlético de Kolkata half. Coach Anotonio Habas responded by bringing on Josemi to replace Jaime Gavilan with 16 minutes of normal time to play. The move resulted in a defensive re-shuffle for the champions with Iain Hume moving into midfield to compensate for the earlier sending off.

The home side would finally make the pressure pay in the 82nd minute. And the goal came from one of the most unlikely sources in defender Keenan Almeida who collected a loose ball just inside the Kolkata penalty box and fired in a thumping shot giving the goalkeeper no chance.

Goa had their tails up and, backed by the fanatic support of the 17,634-strong home crowd, made it difficult for Kolkata to get out of their own half. The champions though dug deep and managed to keep their shape through seven minutes of additional play and ran away with a point as the Hero ISL saw its first draw of the season.

– ISL Media

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