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ISL 5: Valient ATK go down fighting against Bengaluru FC


Until Nicolas ‘Miku’ Fedor scored with a stunning free-kick in the second minute of added time, it was Komal Thatal’s name ringing through at the Salt Lake Stadium, where ATK faced its third defeat in four home matches following the 2-1 loss against Bengaluru FC on Wednesday.

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The 18-year-old netted his debut ISL goal with a wonderful finish after Everton Santos had found him through a threaded ball behind the Bengaluru defence – which was playing a high line. Thatal received the ball beat Nishu Kumar on pace, then cut through him, wrong-footed goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and slotted the ball home to give ATK a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute.

ISL 5 Bengaluru beat ATKAs much as the overwhelming celebration, it was also redemption for the youngster, who was dropped from the India U-17 World Cup team, citing lack of physicality and match awareness.

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From there and until Miku equalised with a gorgeous free-kick, it looked like Bengaluru were in for a shocker – ATK had not beaten nor scored against Bengaluru in two meetings last season – after enjoying almost a perfect season so far in ISL 5. Kalu Uche came close to making it 2-0 minutes later but was adjudged offside, replays though showed otherwise.

Bengaluru surprisingly had created none, other than a 20th-minute header from Miku, which was too straight at ATK goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya. But the Venezuelan mode most from his second opportunity after Gerson Vieira had fouled him just on the edge of the penalty box.

Miku scored with a curled effort into the top corner of Arindam’s goal after a tap touch from Dimas Delgado.

ISL 5 Bengaluru beat ATKIt was an important goal for Bengaluru and to what extent it affected the home team was evident when two minutes into the second half, Erik Paartalu added a second from a powerful side-volley. Once again Miku was at the heart of it and it was from his free-kick – after he had been fouled by Vieira – which cleared by Ricky Lallawmawma fell inside the box before the Australian latched onto it and blasted a shot into the net.

Almost immediately, ATK equalised but Thatal’s shot after he had found the ball on rebound from a Delgado clearance, narrowly missed the target. This was in the 56th minute and by then ATK already had their striker Kalu Uche stretched off after suffering what looked like a groin injury.

The game looked settled after that with the Bengaluru centre-back duo of Juanan and Albert Serran not having much to deal with in the absence of ATK striker Uche. The visitors were happy to defend, while ATK found it hard to fire-in goal the balls they received from the clever play of Manuel Lanzarote.

The only time they did so was when Vieira hit the sidepost from a Lanzarote corner in the 81st minute and by the time the next attacking move from both the teams really came – when Boithang Haokip hit the post in injury-time – the referee had blown the final whistle.

Bengaluru remains undefeated both against ATK (3-0 head to head record) and in the league where they remain third with 10 points from four games. ATK are fifth after six games and seven points.

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