GUWAHATI: ATK reclaimed top spot in the Indian Super League log with a comprehensive 3-0 win over NorthEast United FC on Saturday at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati.
Fijian striker Roy Krishna (35′ & 90+4′) starred the show with a brace and well supported by his former Wellington Phoenix teammate David Williams who grabbed the opener in the 11th minute.
Playing with freedom ATK looked a different team from the one played 2-2 draw with Mumbai City FC at home last week and their bright start to the game was rewarded with a richly deserved opening goal courtesy a perfectly executed header by Williams following a pinpoint cross from Prabir Das from the right side in the 11th minute.
Conceding so soon rattled NorthEast United and it took a fair while for the team to settle into the game as ATK controlled the action keeping NorthEast United contained in their half, and making sure goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury was kept busy.
NorthEast United, however, didn’t lose focus and on a couple of occasions seemed like they could be on track to equalise. Asamoah Gyan threatened ATK’s goal several times throughout the first-half, creating a number of chances inside the penalty area, but the ATK defenders were quick to the ball and made the clearance any time it came near goal.
Inevitably, failing to convert their chances came back to haunt NorthEast United as they fell even further behind when ATK doubled their lead in the 35th minute thanks to Krishna who gave no chance to Subhasish, smashing home with his right foot after a lovely interplay with Williams inside the box.
ATK’s spirits were lifted by the goal and they played out the remainder of the first-half with a lot of energy, which they brought with them when they returned from the break.
Going into the second-half ATK continued to apply pressure and made some decent runs forward. NorthEast United, however, are not a side to give up lightly and despite trailing by two goals kept the intensity high, and the pressure on their opponents as they battled to find a way back into the contest.
The visitors, however, have dominated the midfield for the majority of the second-half and remained compact in defence thanks to the rock solid combination of Salam Ranjan Singh and Agustin Iniguez who reduced NorthEast United’s options to long range attempts which rarely troubled the ATK custodian Arindam Bhattacharya.
Nonetheless, NorthEast United continued to show fighting spirit as they pushed hard to find a goal which would keep them in the match, but between some solid defending and the safe hands of Arindam, the attackers were unable to get an edge on their opponent.
On the other hand, ATK defence looked comfortable in absorbing NorthEast United’s attacking pressure, while looking to catch their opponents off-guard on the counter.
As the clock counted down, NorthEast United threw everything they had to get back into the game forcing a number of saves from Arindam, however ATK flexed their scoring muscles once again in stoppage time when Krishna was able to spring the offside trap to steer past Subhasish to round off the game.
ATK have 14 points in 7 matches leading second-placed Bengaluru FC by one point and will take on FC Goa on 14 December at Goa while NorthEast United who are on 10 points will host Chennaiyin FC on December 12.