As Mumbai City FC locked head with Atletico de Kolkata, it was an opportunity for the home team to win their fourth game on the trot. To secure the big win, they fielded an unforeseen line up of four strikers upfront. Likes of Sunil Chhetri, Sony Norde, Subhash Singh and Nicolas Anelka took up the responsibility of goal scoring with the Frenchman making his first start this season.
On the other hand if Atletico de Kolkata lost tonight it would have been their fourth consecutive loss and their chances of qualifying for the play offs would have been in high waters. To put an end to their woes, they pumped four past the home team, winning the game 4-1.
With the return of Valdo and Javi Lara, Kolkata coach had a better set of players at his disposal. Consequently there were changes made in the right flank as Rino Anto was replaced by Denzil Franco and Baljit Saini made way for the dynamic Sheikh Jewel Raja. Rahim Nabi was handed his first start in the right wing half.
The quintessential slow game of Atletico de Kolkata was on flow in the initial stages. With the likes of Ashutosh Mehta and Pavel Cmovs the job was a bit more difficult for Habas’s men. Till the 30th minute the west side team were on the attacking high as they continued to threaten the new look backline of Atletico.
The main cause of concern for the champions was the goal scoring drought. But Iain Hume answered his critics tonight with a brilliant hat trick against Anelka’s men.
The first goal was a neat play from Spanish midfielder Gavillan who supplied a diagonal ball and an incisive volley from the Canadian Hume made it 1-0. The Spaniard was at play again as he earned the penalty after being tackled wrongly by Subhash Singh. Hume stepped up and scored his second as he sent Subrata Paul the wrong way. The third goal was a brilliant solo run from South African Sameehg Doutie who found the ubiquitous Hume to lap up his third goal.
Keeping the quaint ways at work Nicolas Anelka opted for a massive revamp as he utilised all three substitutes to salvage the game. Two defenders, Bertin and O’Dea made way for attackers Frederick Piquionne and Selim Benachour.
The move seemed to pay back as Mumbai pulled one back after Amrinder Singh’s save saw a rebound to the Tunisian Benachour who slammed into the net to make it 2-1.
Atletico de Kolkata seemed to be high on confidence as Hume and Gavillan stringed a perfect attacking move but nobody was at the end to finish. An indomitable spirit from the Canadian Hume reflected his commitment as he braved a skull operation to continue playing the beautiful game.
A practically free run from Augustine Fernandes and a wall play between the wing back and Sameehg Doutie saw Kolkata make it 3-1 in the 77th minute. It was the perfect tempo for Iain Hume to earn the man of the match award with his outstanding performance. True to his words he scored three and made it look all so easy in spite of playing on with a bandaged head.
With zero corners in answer to Mumbai City’s eighteen, Atletico de Kolkata managed to hold the sway in the goal scoring department. The team required an impressive performance and as former champions they bounced back strongly.
The last laugh was deservedly for Antonio Lopez Habas who tinkered around his team in search of the perfect combination. His boys paid him back with a laudable performance in every sector of the game. The competition being halfway through it was the perfect juncture for the defending champions to get the momentum back which they did with this thumping win.