KOLKATA: Mohun Bagan continued their winning run in the 2019 Durand Cup when they beat ATK 2-1 in an Group B game on Thursday at Mohun Bagan Ground.
The performance was a perfect response by Kibu Vicuna’s men, who have come under scrutiny after they lost 3-0 to Peerless Club in Calcutta Football League earlier this week.
The game started with both sides adopting cautious tactics respecting their opponent. The first 15 minutes witnessed no action on both ends with most of the play being in the midfield.
The first effort on goal only came in the 17th minute, when Salva Chamorro met a left-sided cross from Ashutosh Mehta, but he headed his effort wide of the ATK goal.
Four minutes later Suhair VP came bitterly close to opening the lead but his close range effort was superbly saved by the ATK custodian Avilash Paul.
And just before the half hour mark Alexander Romario Jesuraj found Suhair who once again was the thorn in ATK’s defense throat. Suhair tried to deceive Avilash at the near post but saw his ball in the side netting.
Mohun Bagan, thereafter, continued to press on, and it was no surprise when they took the lead in the 34th minute though Francisco Morante, who headed home Joseba Beitia’s corner.
From the goal onwards, Mohun Bagan dominated the proceedings, but poor decision-making let them down in the final third which saw the Mariners went into the breather with only a solitary goal lead.
The second-half was more of the same as Mohun Bagan creating most of the chances and ATK looked to pounce on the counter.
The Mariners were all over ATK and asking more and more questions. Avilash produced an glorious save to keep his in the contest when he denied Salva in a one-on-one inside the box, diving full length to stop the ball from going in.
But the pressure eventually told and Mohun Bagan doubled their lead when Beitia slotted from close range in the 54th minute after receiving the ball from Suhair.
ATK, responded with fierce attack trying to stage a comeback. Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Sankar Roy was a spectator in the first-half, but he saw more action in the second, keeping out an angled drive from Cavin Lobo before twice having to punch away an awkward aerial ball in the 67th minute as ATK to put more pressure on the Mohun Bagan defense looking for the breakthrough.
The Mohun Bagan, defence, while under pressure at this stage, held firm and ensured that they retained the advantage.
Something had to give, though, and it was Ashis Pradhan’s goal in the 79th minute that gave ATK a gilmer of hope.
The match started to become a little tenser as the clock counted down with ATK showing great determination in their pursuit of an equalizer, while Mohun Bagan remained solid at the back.
ATK, to their credit, never gave up but it appeared as if getting on the score sheet just wasn’t to be for the side today with every shot went anywhere but on target as Mohun Bagan held on on for a well-deserved win.
With the result, Mohun Bagan remained top of the group with six points and are one foot into the semifinals. Their next match is against Indian Navy on August 17 while ATK will meet Mohammedan SC the preceding day, August 16, both at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan.