ATK slot four past hapless Chennai City
The last qualifier of the Hero Super Cup witnessed ATK dominating Chennai City FC by a 4-1 scoreline to book a pre-quarter final berth for themselves at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Four different scorers in the form of Hitesh Sharma, Zequinha, Ashutosh Mehta and Robbie Keane found the back of the net for ATK, while Chennai had only Jean Michael Joachim’s lone goal to show for their efforts.
Both the teams started off cautiously, holding play to gauge the other’s style of play. ATK had the first major chance of the game when Zequinha sent a lovely cross in the box which went past Chennai custodian Kabir T for Keane to head into an open goal, but he ended hitting it wide.
After a series of attempts from either end, ATK thought they had got the lead in the 29thminute when Sibongakonke Mbatha’s cross was met by Zequinha’s header. But the goal was ruled out as the former’s cross had curled over the goal line. However, they got the lead eight minutes later through Hitesh’s brilliant left-footer from distance which gave Kabir no chance.
After a brief delay due to floodlight failure, the teams returned to the pitch with six minutes added to the clock. Chennai took maximum advantage of this and scored the equaliser in the last minute of the half through Joachim. He met a superb curling cross from Edwin Sydney Vanspaul with a diving header to ensure both the teams entered the break tied at 1-1.
The second period opened with a glorious chance for ATK when Robin Singh found himself in a one-on-one situation with Kabir, but the latter pulled out a fantastic save to deny him. However, in the 58th-minute, Zequinha gave ATK back the lead when he collected Mbatha’s lay-off and calmly slotted home.
Chennai tried to get their foot back in the game with captain Soosai Raj leading the pack, but ATK managed to keep their defensive fortress steady. Ashutosh’s goal in the 76th-minute however, seem to take a little steam off their fightback. Kabir failed to latch on to Zequinha’s corner ball and Ashutosh was alert enough to shoot the deflected ball into the net.
ATK continued their onslaught in the last quarter of the match, which resulted in another goal from caretaker coach-cum-captain Keane. The Irishman ran to the end of a long lob inside Chennai’s box and cheekily dinked it past a rooted keeper to put the final nail on the coffin. That proved to be the last major action of the match as ATK booked a pre-quarter final berth for themselves.