KOLKATA: NorthEast United FC left it late to inflict a second consecutive Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2018-19 defeat on ATK, winning 1-0 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Thursday.
The match started on a cagey note with neither side able to impose themselves on the game. The Highlanders did create a few half chances through Federico Gallego and Bartholomew Ogbeche, but to no avail. The most controversial moment of the first period occurred when Sena Ralte was sent off for a second bookable offence on Nikhil Kadam.
With ATK a man down, NorthEast had the perfect opportunity to take a hold of the game. They created their first real chance a few minutes later when Redeem Tlang delivered a dangerous ball across the face of goal from the right flank. Ogbeche was on hand to meet the cross, but some inspiring defending from John Johnson ensured the score remained intact.
The only other major chance of the half fell to ATK, when Manuel Lanzarote tried his luck from a free-kick just outside the box. His curling effort seemed destined for the top corner, but TP Rehenesh did well to parry the ball away to ensure both the teams entered the breather tied at 0-0.
Despite only 10-men on the field, ATK started the second half on the front foot and nearly took the lead through their skipper. A floating ball from El Maimouni Noussair was flicked on by Everton Santos into Lanzarote’s path. The midfielder tried directing the ball into the near corner, but Rehenesh was alert enough to prevent him from scoring.
The hosts created another glorious chance a few minutes after the hour mark when Lanzarote delivered an inch-perfect ball into the penalty box. Johnson managed to get his head on to the ball, but his resulting header missed the far post by a whisker.
As the half wore on, NorthEast tried making use of their man-advantage to search for that all important goal. They nearly did so when Gallego managed to get behind the defence. The midfielder almost found Ogbeche with his cross, but Johnson pulled off another brilliant clearance.
However, with just a few minutes remaining on the clock, Rowllin Borges rose highest to connect perfectly to Gallego’s corner ball, nestling it into the far corner. The final whistle blew shortly after and the Highlanders were rewarded for their valiant efforts throughout the night, deservedly taking home all three points.