As the two teams entered the contest in Kolkata, it was much to achieve and prove for both Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) and Kerala Blasters (KBFC). ATK had to improve on their home record while Kerala had to add to their away scoring record. After 90 minutes, it was little dent in either records. With two first half goals inside the first 20 minutes, the two teams played out a 1-1 draw.
This leaves both with 19 points after 13 games and in the same position as that they entered – ATK on third and Kerala on fourth. Delhi Dynamos stay second while the already qualified Mumbai City stay top of the table.
After ninety minutes of action, the points are shared and the scoreline remains 1-1. Both teams pushed for the winner in the second half but were unable to break the deadlock. Possession belonged to Kolkata but it had no impact on the scoreline. After 13 matches both Kolkata and Kerala are locked at 19 points each
Both teams make substitutions in dying stages of the game. Iain Hume has had an off day and is leaving the field to make way for Juan Belencoso
We are less than 15 minutes away from the final whistle now. Both teams remain locked at 1-1. They need some magic going their way as we enter the 80th minute of the 90-minute contest
Kerala get a free-kick. Mehtab Hossain lines up to take the kick but his good cross is cleared well. The ball was put back in but the referee blew his whistle for a foul on the goalie. Hossain livid with the decision, and kicks the ball in frustration and gets booked – a yellow!
The hosts Kolkata have enjoyed major share of the possession but are yet to do anything substantial with the same. Kerala have been good in the defence but they need to make a move forward for the goal
Kolkata and Kerala are third and fourth in the table respectively and both would want to register a win and take a safe position in the points table in the race to the play-offs
The second half is underway and both teams continue to trade possession in the midfield. It’s locked at 1-1 as of now, and both Kolkata and Kerala would be desperate to grab the goal which puts them ahead in the contest
Half time in Kolkata and it is 1-1 between ATK and Kerala. Kerala took the lead thanks to a blunder by Arroyo before a sublime bit of play resulted in a Pearson equaliser. ATK have drawn into the game ever since but unable to take the lead despite better possession and chances.
Half an hour gone in Kolkata and it is 1-1. Atletico de Kolkata are making better of the chances between the two. Plenty of forays on the right but no one on hand to convert them so far. Lots of noise and reason for home fans to look forward to the remaining hour of play
Pearson equalises for ATK to make it 1-1! Beautifully constructed goal between Iain Hume and Helder Postiga before the latter puts it on a platter for Pearson to slot in with his left foot. And it is 1-1!
CK Vineeth gives Kerala the lead! Kolkata have a goal rightly disallowed for offside and on the other end, CK Vineeth pounces on an error by ATK goalkeeper Espinosa Arroyo and heads the ball into the back of the net. ATK 0-1 KBFC
And we’re underway in Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, Kolkata. ATK are looking to qualify for the semis and they can with a win.
ATK XI: José Luis Espinosa Arroyo, Arnab Mondal, Iain Hume, Hélder Postiga, Borja Fernández(C), Pritam Kotal, Javier Lara Grande, Robert Lalthlamuana, Debjit Majumder(GK), Stephen Paul Pearson, Abinash Ruidas.
Kerala Blasters XI: Graham Stack(GK), Cedric Hengbart, Aaron Hughes(C), Kervens Belfort, Ishfaq Ahmed, CK Vineeth, Mehtab Hossain, Elhadji Ndoye, Mohammed Rafi, Sandesh Jhingan, Josu Currais.
Atletico de Kolkata eye last-four berth
A step away from securing a berth in the play-offs, former champions Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) will be hungry to improve their lacklustre home record this season when they face an improved Kerala Blasters FC in the league stages of Indian Super League in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Placed third with 18 points from 12 matches, the inaugural edition champions can secure a top-four finish with a draw but a bigger concern for coach Jose Molina is that they have only been able to get past Delhi Dynamos FC at home this season. ATK have two more home matches left in the league stage.
The Kolkata side will face Pune City FC in their last home match on December 2 and prior to that Molina has made his intentions clear.
“I’m sure you will always like a 5-0 or 5-1 result. Not just against Kerala but against all teams. But even if we win 1-0, everyone will like it as well. The most important thing is to win,” Molina told reporters ahead of their penultimate round match of the league.
ATK incidentally enjoy a superior head-to-head record against both Kerala Blasters and NorthEast United FC, while only one of those team can overtake second placed Delhi Dynamos’ points tally as they battle amongst themselves in the concluding league clash.
Based on current form, ATK will be favourites to become the third team to book their place.
“The work that these players have been doing since day one gives me confidence. They are working really hard. They are improving. They are trying to do their best and help the team,” said Molina.
ATK scored a last-gasp 2-1 victory against FC Goa in their last match. It was a match they dominated and deserved to score more goals, a fact that was emphasised by the Spanish coach.
“We had a great match in Goa. We could have scored more goals but I think the players now are not bothered about anyone. It doesn’t matter which teams is in front of us. It’s all the same. We try to dominate the game, defend well and score as many goals as possible,” he said.
Going into their last two league games, ATK are sweating on the fitness of star midfielder Sameehg Doutie, besides Stephen Pearson and Lalrindika Ralte.
Down with fever, the South African mideo did not train with the team today, while Lalrindika and Pearson have not yet recovered from injuries.
Kerala Blasters have done well to reach the fourth spot for now after collecting just a point from their first three matches.
A win for Kerala Blasters will take them closer to the semi-final spot, although they will not be guaranteed a top four place as they are dependent on head-to-head record of teams who can reach 21 points like ATK, Delhi Dynamos and NorthEast United FC.
“We feel we are in a decent position (to qualify) and Kolkata will feel the same. There is an awful lot to play for tomorrow (Tuesday) night. We are looking forward to it. It’s coming to the meaty end of the season. You need to try and play your very best (during) these last couple of games,” Kerala Blasters coach Steve Coppell said.
Despite Coppell’s confidence, Kerala Blasters will have to remain guarded against the hosts.
Kerala are on a four-match winning streak at home but have failed to impress in away games.
They have not won any of their last three away matches and have conceded 10 goals away from home, a record that is bettered only by bottom-placed teams like Chennaiyin FC (12) and FC Goa (12).
Worryingly, Kerala Blasters have failed to score in four of their six away games and scored only three away goals, the lowest by any team.
“Three points are important for both teams. Kolkata have been unlucky in few of the games which they have drawn. They have powerful forwards and we will have to be at our best to get anything out of the game,” Coppell said.