As fourth placed Atletico de Kolkata met last placed Chennaiyin FC, both the coaches had nothing apart from victory on their minds. Being a high voltage clash like always, it promised to be an encounter worth the hype. Atletico was on the safer side, having collected 14 points from a possible 30. On the other side Chennaiyin FC were facing torrid times as they languished at the bottom.
Atletico de Kolkata brought back Izumi Arata after his prolific performance in the last match. The attacking shape was bolstered with the likes of Valdo and Iain Hume. In the defence, Arnab Mandal paired up with Tiri as Rino Anto and Augustin Fernandes looked to support the flanks.
For the away side, ex Atletico man Fikru Teferra returned to the ground where he had his fond memories. Elsewhere Thoi Singh and Harmanjot Singh Khabra made up the channels and Elano Blumer played in the number 10 role.
The match started on a messy note with lot of scrambling tackles flowing around. Both the teams were keen to retain possession but it was not pleasing to the eye.
Raphael Augusto caught the attention with his imposing presence in the midfield. His indomitable runs shrugged off the meek challenges from the home side. Keeping with the spirit of the game a lot of heavy challenges flowed in from the away side. Atletico de Kolkata looked to string some passes but Chennai kept them under control.
A defensive goof up between Augustine and Arnab proved to be costly as Augusto claimed the first goal of the match in 27th minute. A lapse in the clearing abilities of Atletico defense led the Brazilian to a free run on goal and he shot past the advancing Amrinder Singh to make it 1-0.
Alesandro Potenza earned the first yellow for his antics in the wall as the home team looked to equalize from a set piece in the last quarter of half time. Few minutes later, Fikru made a silly mishap as he had the chance to lob it over Amrinder in acres of space. But his trick shot was devoid of any vice and made it an easy catch for Atletico de Kolkata goalkeeper.
Dhanachandra accounted for the second booking for the away side as he handled the ball to give away a free kick. It was a pricey handball as the clearance from Karanjit fell for Doutie who smashed a perfect volley to make it 1-1. His celebration mimicked Chennaiyin striker Fikru as the goal scorer emulated the Ethiopian with panache.
Chennaiyin FC had the first shot on goal after half time but Elano could not keep his effort down and the ball sailed over the bar. The away side was on the attack as they needed to win desperately. They won a free kick in the 50th minute just outside the box but his effort hit the wall. The away side pressed for the winning goal but Atletico de Kolkata defence were insulated to the threats.
In the 57th minute Hume had a left footer blocked by the Chennai goalkeeper. The home side seemed to turn on the gas for their second goal. A neat passing move from Arata and Hume almost opened the goal but the Canadian’s shot was well blocked. The consistency paid off as in the 63rd minute Hume made it 2-1. It was the turn of the goal scorer to provide the assist. Doutie made a darting run with the ball from the right and his low cross was rolled into the net by the Canadian for his 6th goal.
To preserve their lead, coach Habas introduced Sheikh Jewel Raja, taking off Izumi Arata. It was a ploy to jam the midfield supply. Countering the same, Chennai brought on Bruno Pellissari and Jeje to find the much awaited equalizer.
Fikru did not seem to help his team as he made a cynical push on Tiri which earned him a booking. Chennai seemed to have blown the lid as Brazilian Augusto followed suit. Then it was the turn of new man Pelissari who was booked for simulation. Chennai’s frustration was manifested in the form silly challenges.
Overall it was a disappointing return for Fikru who was kept out of the ball by some astute defending from Atletico de Kolkata. Sameehg Doutie deservedly won the man of the match with one goal and an assist. The away side remained at the bottom with this defeat. But most importantly, it was a cherished home win for Habas’ men as they almost sealed their position in the play offs with this win.