ISL 2019/20: Williams’ goal proves to be the difference as ATK edge Chennaiyin

CHENNAI: ATK picked up their first away win of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 after a 1-0 victory over Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday. The hosts dominated the ball and created several opportunities, but David Williams scored the only goal of the match for ATK in the 48th minute.

Chennaiyin FC had the first opportunity of the match just three minutes in when Nerijus Valskis’ powerful header from a Edwin Vanspaul cross flew just above the crossbar.

Valskis, in fact, was a busy man early on, but much to the home fans’ dismay, failed to side-foot an easy chance goalwards shortly after.

ATK’s first real chance of substance came in the 12th minute after some wonderful interplay led to a well-measured cross towards the edge of the six-yard box. Pritam Kotal, however, couldn’t quite get his head to the cross.

ATK then had a penalty appeal turned down moments later after Roy Krishna went down inside the box.

The chances kept on coming thick and fast and the next one went Chennaiyin’s way when Anirudh Thapa found himself with space just outside the box in the 24th minute. The Indian midfielder’s shot, though, was comfortably saved by Arindam Bhattacharja. ATK responded almost immediately with a chance of their own. This time, it went to Michael Soosairaj, who exchanged a lovely one-two with Williams before producing an effort on goal which was blocked by Chennaiyin skipper Lucian Goian.

The hosts had the last attempt on goal in the opening period after earning a free-kick in a dangerous area. However, the subsequent set-piece and a follow-up attempt from it were both blocked by ATK’s defence, as the sides went into the break with the score goalless.

ATK took the lead three minutes after the restart when Javier Hernandez’s shot from a Prabir Das cutback was blocked. The ball, however, made its way to an unmarked Williams at the far post. The Australian forward, of course, made no mistake and smashed the ball into the back of the net to make it 1-0 for the visitors. The goal was also the 1000th goal in Hero ISL history.

Chennaiyin looked to fight back and Vanspaul almost drew them level on the hour-mark when a stinging effort by him from distance went agonizingly wide of the target. The home side soon began to dominate possession and created several chances.

Eli Sabia saw his header from a free-kick go wide in the 71st minute, while substitute Andre Schembri’s effort after the ball broke to him kindly in the box a minute later was off target. As the clock ticked down, Chennaiyin continued to pile on the pressure and almost benefitted when a Rafael Crivellaro cross in the 74th minute led to a goal-mouth scramble before the visitors managed to clear their lines.

The closing stages of the contest saw Chennaiyin continue to create chances, while also getting several set-piece opportunities. The home side, though, failed to make their pressure count as ATK defended resolutely and protected their lead to register a hard-fought win.  

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