Former champions Atletico de Kolkata secured a place in the play-offs for the third successive season following their 1-1 draw against Kerala Blasters in an Indian Super League football match on Tuesday.
Playing the role of a lone striker in Steve Coppell’s 4-1-4-1 scheme of things, C K Vineeth put Kerala ahead in the
eighth minute in what was a poor judgement from an otherwise impressive ATK goalkeeper Debjit Majumder.
Keen on improving their woeful home record this season, ATK were not to budge as they put up a beautiful link-up play among Iain Hume, Helder Postiga and Stephen Pearson who got the goal on his name in the 18th minute.
It was a visual delight by the ATK trio with some lovely touch play initiated by Hume who laid it up for Postiga before Pearson found the back of the Kerala net.
With 19 points, ATK have qualified with one more match left in the league, against Pune City FC here on December 2.
Kerala also have 19 points but lag behind in the fourth place on goal difference as they need a draw against NorthEast United in their last outing at home on December 4 to make it to last four.
Today’s result here also confirmed Delhi Dynamos booking a play-offs berth before their match against NorthEast United in Guwahati tomorrow. Delhi are at second place with 20 points with two matches left in the league match.
Table-toppers Mumbai City FC (23 points from 13 matches) have already qualified for the play-offs.
But as far as ATK’s stint at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium is concerned, it’s been a lacklustre story so far this season.
They still have just one home win (against Delhi Dynamos FC) this season. They have picked up just seven points at home, with only Goa having picked up fewer points at home (4).
ATK have also struggled to score goals at home, having scored just six goals. This is the joint-fewest with Goa and NorthEast United in ISL 2016.
They have managed to keep just one clean sheet at home too.
Their problem of not being able to penetrate the opposition defences and inability to finish off chances that they created also played a role.
Both teams were locked 1-1 after an intense first 45 minutes of action and after the changeover, ATK had their chances but could not convert.
In the 59th minute, it all started from deep in defense when Arroyo played a long ball in through to Ruidas who made a good darting run in behind the Kerala defence.
It seemed he was through on goal but Sandesh Jhingan recovered well and cleared the ball out for a corner.
The home side held maximum possession to dominate the proceedings but Debjit Majumder’s misjudgement gifted Kerala an early lead.
Mehtab Hossain crossed it in from the left wing and Majumder came out of his place in what became a costly blunder as he fumbled and Cedric Hengbart had a touch on the ball.
Latching on to the loose ball on offer, Vineeth unleashed his powerful header to give his side ahead.
Earlier, one-minute silence was observed, paying respect for the Colombian plane tragedy in Medellin.