A champion team should be strong, confident, wily and definitely possess a winning touch. That Midas touch that guarantees a fortune was present at large for Atletico de Kolkata as they hosted FC Pune City.
Atletico de Kolkata became the first team to qualify for the play offs as Iain Hume stole the show with a stellar hat-trick. This win keeps the Kolkata outfit at the top of the ISL table with 23 points from 13 matches. FC Pune City, once table toppers, are now at sixth, with a gap of 8 points from the league leaders. They need to win their remaining two matches and rely on other results to see themselves in the top four.
The defending champions took the lead as early as in the 9th minute when Hume made the breakthrough. He scored the next goal in the 47th and the third in the 83rd minute to complete his second hat-trick of the league. With that, his tally went to 9, just one behind Chennaiyin FC’s Colombian striker Stiven Mendoza.
Dejan Lekic scored the fourth goal for Kolkata in the final minute of play, while Adrian Mutu scored the only goal for visitors FC Pune City.
Atletico de Kolkata seemed to answer all their defensive critics with a series of 8 goals in two games. Coach Habas had finally found the right combination as he made only one change, bringing Arata Izumi instead of Mohammed Rafique. Visiting coach David Platt tinkered around to make six changes but in vain.
Kolkata took the lead within the first 10 minutes as an incisive pass split the Pune defence, leaving them hapless. They relied on their offside trap for Hume, which allowed Arata to intercept and set up the Canadian for a simple tap in.
Pune City made constant forays into the defence, ably guided by Adrian Mutu, but his near perfect free kick was saved by the diving Amrinder Singh.
After the break, Atletico de Kolkata hit immediately which has become their forte in recent times. It was an acrobatic finish from Hume as he clinched a picturesque finish from the lobbed pass of Borja Fernandez. Hume had his third with a burst of pace and met the cross from Sameehg Doutie to slide it in.
Pune City would curse their luck as they hit the post thrice and brought out some goal line scrambling saves to prevent them from scoring. But it was a solo dribble from Mutu which saw his attempt finally convert to a goal. The Romanian striker showed good skills to skip past three Kolkata defenders and then finish it off with a grounder.
However, there was room for some more entertainment and this time it came from Serbian striker Dejan Lekic. He kept his composure and worked across the left to slot home the fourth for his team, making it the last piece of the action.
It was an inspiring performance from Atletico de Kolkata, exuding a champions’ mentality that was missing in the initial days of the tournament. It was a hard fought win for the Kolkata side. The confidence of the team was at the zenith as they played plenty of first touch passes. It was reminiscent of the Spanish contingent which is a major faction for the home side.
There were a few instances when Pune seemed to threaten with a lot of pressing football. But lady luck shone as the female fans who made up a large contingent of the audience, went home with a dramatic win for Atletico de Kolkata.