Rowlin Borges scored a late winner as two-time champions ATK fell to its second defeat in as many matches at home. NorthEast United beat them 1-0 at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Thursday.
Borges scored in the 89th minute – the second consecutive time ATK has conceded this late – and until that goal both the teams seemed to be walking at a sleeping pace, content with a draw.
ATK coach Steve Coppell later said they were playing on the counter, waiting for a mistake and happy to stay deep after being cut-short to a man down within the opening half-hour of the match.
That happened because ATK’s left-back Sena Ralte was given the marching orders after being booked twice in 15 minutes, the last of which came for a stamp on Nikhil Kadam of the NorthEast United. Earlier, Ralte was shown a yellow for pulling down Redeem Tlang in the 19th minute when the winger had escaped his marker.
From the resulting free-kick former PSG striker Bartholomew Ogbeche blasted his header – from a Federico Gallego cross – horribly wide despite being in an open position with no one marking him down.
That aside, excitement was very little and far in between and those few that came were all from the visiting side – who used the flanks to their fullest but were lacking in the final ball.
The Highlanders came close again the 35th minute and once again it was the combination of Gallego-Ogbeche-Tlang that dragged the ATK defence open. A quick one-two between the two foreign imports followed with Ogbeche sending Tlang wide, from where his low-cross into the home box was somehow not put in goal by the former PSG man.
Meanwhile, ATK, who took 43 minutes to create a goal scoring opportunity and then another in the 55th minute, had their chances too, most of which was centered in and around their skipper Manuel Lanzarote. The one came in the 43rd was after Lanzarote was fouled just outside the NorthEast box by Mato Grigic, who entered the referee’s book.
Lanzarote’s free-kick though was straight at goalkeeper TP Rehenesh. Then from a corner, he struck the upright, while it was from his free-kick that John Johnson missed a sitter in the 67th minute.
But their short spell of ball possession and chances to score were once again dried-up as NorthEast parked outside ATK’s attacking third. The trio of Gallego-Ogbeche-Tlang combined well and they were joined by Augustin Okrah, who made some darting run across the left channel.
One such move forced ATK goalkeeper Arindam Bhatterjee to come out of his line and clear, while Obgece had a cross cleared off the line. Their search for the for a goal eventually rested after Borges over-jumped Balwant and Gerson Vieira before thumping the header home to record the brilliant victory.
Image Source: ISL