Talented and always hungry for goals, the Portuguese striker Helder Postiga scored twice as the defending champions Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) started their campaign in impressive fashion by beating Chennaiyin FC 3-2 in an exciting g opener of the cash-rich Hero Indian Super League (ISL). The former Portugal frontman and Cristiano Ronaldo’s one-time teammate Postiga showed his predatory skills with two opportunistic strikes in the 13th and 70th minute while substitute Spanish striker Valdo also found his name on the scoresheet.
For Chennaiyin FC, Jeje Lalpeklhua hit one in the 31st minute while their main player and skipper Elano Blumer got one back converting a controversial penalty in the 89th minute when the referee awarded penalty with the ball rebounding off ATK stopper Arnab Mondal’s stomach.
However there was some bad news for the ATK fans as Postiga might just be out for a week to 10 days after he pulled a hamstring while taking a crack during the second goal and was stretchered off the field. ATK skipper Borja Fernandes said: “Postiga is an important player and I hope that his injury is not serious.”
For Chennai outfit, the absence of Marco Materazzi, serving a one-match touchline ban from the last season did have its ill-effects as Chennai left Bruno Melissari and Stiven Mendoza from the playing eleven. For ATK, Iain Hume was a livewire down the left flank as he tormented Chennai side back Avishek Das. In fact all the three goals conceded by Chennaiyin were due to defensive lapses.
In the 13th minute, Borja kept a floater inside the box and a surging goalkeeper Edel bete collided with Mailson Alves leaving Postiga with an open net and the scorer of 27 international goals did not disappoint.
In the 31st minute, it was Elano, who kept a cross for Fikru Teferra who was intercepted by ATK goalie Amrinder Singh but as the two collided, an unmarked Jeje slotted the ball home. The second was played on even keel till the 70th minute before Frenchman Bernard Mendy’s fatal header towards his own goal gave ATK the lead.
Mendy’s backpass was collected by Postiga, who did his spadework past a defender and then rounded off Bete to make it 2-1 with a neat placement. But as soon as he scored the goal, he was writhing in pain and was immediately taken off.
His replacement Valmiro Rocha Valdo, also celebrated his first outing on Indian soil with a headed finish when Hume sent a perfectly measured cross from the left. Mendy and goalkeeper Bete both missed the flight of the ball as Valdo timed his jump to perfection heading it into an open net. The match was into its 76th minute at that point of time.
Mendy, who will be remembered for his famous bicycle kick goal in the first edition had horrifying 10 minutes where he also conceded a penalty in the 78th minute after he was found to having handled the ball inside the 18-yard box. However Bete made amends with a full strectched diving save to his right as he denied Javi Lara from making it 4-1.
To make matters worse r the Chennaiyin’s attack did not have the sting most of the times as a dejected Bollywood actor and co- owner of Chennai team Abhishek Bachchan watched his team lose from the VIP stands.