February 8, 2020 10:49:48 pm
Captain Roy Krishna went into a rampaging mode with a second-half hat-trick as former champions ATK beat Odisha FC 3-1 to seal their play-offs spot in the Indian Super League in Kolkata on Saturday.
After a goalless first-half, the star Fijian recruit virtually killed the contest in the space of 15 minutes as he struck in the 49th, 60th and 63rd minutes to take ATK past FC Goa at the top of the table on goal difference. Odisha FC’s new recruit Manuel Onwu, who is on loan from Bengaluru FC, scored the consolation goal for the visitors in the 67th minute.
With two matches left, ATK now have 33 points as they remained firm in contention for the top spot. The top team at the league phase will book a direct berth in the AFC Champions League group stage.
The two-time former champions also virtually confirmed a last-four spot in the ISL for a fourth time from six seasons.
Roy Krishna, meanwhile, also jumped to the top of the goals’ tally with 13 to his name, one more than Chennaiyin FC’s Nerijus Valskis who has 12 goals from 14 matches. For the Bhubaneswar-based Odisha FC, this was their seventh defeat as they have 21 points from 16 matches and their qualifying hopes are over.
Playing their penultimate home match of the season, ATK began the second half in a rousing fashion when Roy Krishna struck with a first-time finish from a Hernandez corner.
But his second goal was about quality, control and finesse as the Fijian took a solitary run from the left flank, first beating Carlos Delgado before slamming past a hapless Odisha custodian Francisco Dorronsoro. Switching to the right flank, Roy Krishna was set up by an Armando Sosa Pena long ball as he brought up his hat-trick before Odisha could settle down in less than three minutes.
At half-time, however, it was a different story altogether as the Josep Gombau-coached side managed to hold on to a clean slate, despite some spirited runs down both the flanks by Roy Krishna and Co.
Odisha defenders remained on the edge in the first-half with ATK making some fine interceptions right from the start.
The home team’s first real chance came in the seventh minute when Javier Hernandez’s center from the left flank found the captain Roy Krishna. The Fijian turned around to set it up for Prabir Das who surged into the box with a low cross to Edu Garcia but the ball was cleared in time for a corner.
In the 26th minute, ATK once again had a chance with Hernandez from the right but the defenders managed to put the ball away.
ATK take on Chennaiyin FC in their last home match on February 16 before concluding their league stage at Bengaluru FC six days later.
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