In a tie where tempers were high and the game rough, the defending champions, Atletico de Kolkata, defended doggedly with 10 men, as they held FC Goa to a 1-1 draw in the Indian Super League football encounter at Margao.
While ATK struck in the 13th minute through a spectacular Arata Izumi volley, it was Keenan Almeida’s cracking right footer that restored parity for Zico’s men in the 81st minute in an ill-tempered match. Both ATK and FC Goa now have three points from two games with a win and a draw to show for their efforts.
ATK’s Baljit Sahni was shown the first red-card of the season after head butting opposition defender Gregory Arnolin, bringing memories of the last season to the fore, when the latter was involved in an identical incident with the then ATK striker Fikru Teferra.
It was a match that was dominated by the Goan outfit as they created more opportunities throughout the match but in the end were able to manage only a point. While Japanese of Indian origin Arata, who has played for the Indian national team, won the man of the match for his goal, the best player on the turf was FC Goa’s left-half Jofre Mateu, who was like a livewire with his assists and pinpoint crosses.
It was ATK who got the lead in the 13th minute against the run of play. Winger Javi Lara floated one from the wide right inside the box for Iain Hume. Before the Goa defence could get their shape right, Arata came from behind with reflex snap volley that beat a diving goalie Elinton Andrade.
However that was the only positive move that ATK managed as FC Goa came back with a lot of vigour. Skipper Lucio was seen on the overlap while Jofre fed some great balls for Reinaldo and Le Moura upfront. However Oftense Nato and Denzel Franco had a great game at the back as they foiled their bid to score in their defensive third.
Goa kept the intensity going in the second half in their bid to find an equaliser even as ATK defence stood upto the challenge. However the players of both teams indulged in rough play in the second half with tempers being frayed. As many as six yellow cards and a red card to Baljit was shown during the day.
It was in the 61st minute that the referee showed Baljit yellow card for a rough challenge on Arnolin. But not learning his lesson, Baljit fell into Arnolin’s trap, engaging in a verbal duel before head butting him.
While Baljit tried to get away, but the referee after consultation with the assistant referee promptly gave marching orders as an angry ATK coach Antonio Lopez Habas looked on.
FC Goa upped the ante with repeated raids at ATK goal. Finally, Goa got their equaliser in the 81st minute when Mandar kept a cross in the opposition box which Reinaldo neatly headed down to set it up for Keenan, whose rasping right footer crashed into the net, much to the delight of the majority of the 17,634 spectators cheering the home team.