Two-time Indian Super League champions ATK defeated Neroca FC 2-1 in a closed-door practice match at the Salt Lake Stadium training ground in Kolkata. Akhlidin Israilov scored with a left-footer from a close range freekick to put Neroca FC ahead in the 31st minute on Tuesday.
But Robbie Keane (45th) and Robin Singh (86th) displayed some superb skills and netted one each for a hard-fought victory. After the initial few minutes, it was Keane who had the first shot at goal, a cheeky right-footer from close range showing his class, but the Neroca FC goalkeeper was equal to the task.
A few minutes later, Robin was brought down inside the box but Keane’s penalty was thwarted by rival goalkeeper Lalit Thapa with a dive to his right. Lalit again sprung into action denying an attempt from Robin as chances kept coming for ATK and next it was Rupert Nongrum whose attempt flew inches over the crossbar.
But against the tide of play, it was Neroca who took the lead after half an hour’s intense fight. Thereafter much of the play was limited to the midfield with ATK trying to come up with a quick response.
It was Keane who helped ATK draw level at the stroke of halftime, chest trapping a long ball from Jordi Figueras Montel and calmly tucking it into the net with his left foot.
At halftime, it was all square at 1-1. ATK were the brighter of the two teams at the start of the second half. ATK coach Teddy Sheringham constantly tried to push his men up-field.
Robin finally got a firm shot away but again it was tipped over the bar by Lalit. Thereafter, Njazi Kuqi who came on as a substitute for Keane in the second half missed two chances both fizzing past the woodwork.
At the dying moments of the game, Robin smashed a cross from close to seal their victory.