The match between Athletic Kolkata (“ATK”) began almost after a three hour delay as the visiting FC Goa landed in Kolkata at 9 p.m. and reached the stadium 45 minutes later at around 9:45 due to a flight related problem. The match started only at 10:45p.m. IST and continued well beyond midnight.
According to Indian Super League rules, a match may start a maximum of two hours after scheduled kick-off, provided the home team agrees, and ATK agreed to the same. About 20,000 fans patiently waited for kick-off and cheered the home team with ‘ATK’ chants.
However, ATK started the match with attacking intent as they tried to capitalize on the home support to the fullest. Ex-Liverpool striker and ATK Captain Robbie Keane gave ATK the early lead in the fourth minute, which was greeted with reverberating chants of ‘ATK’. After Mohamed Ali’s handball gifted ATK a free-kick from a dangerous position, Ryan Taylor whipped in a good ball inside the box. Keane rose highest to head it into the bottom left corner past the diving Laxmikant Kattimani. Next, Mandar Rao Dessai tried to catch the host’s custodian Debjit Majumdar off his line with a wonderful lob which unfortunately clipped the crossbar and went out of play.
However, Robbie Keane’s goal was neutralized in the 24th minute mark by Ferran Corominas who currently is sitting on nine goals and on top of the goalscoring charts in the league. Robbie Keane again came close to scoring for ATK on the 28th and 32nd minute but his attempts at goal were saved by Kattimani while Keane did manage to beat Kattimani on the 53rd minute but his shot sailed narrowly over the far post. As the match progressed, tempers flared late after midnight, and a few tussles broke out in the middle of the pitch.
Sadly for ATK fans, the late night football drama seemed to be a case of ‘so near and yet so far’ as FC Goa managed to hold ATK to a 1-1 draw and salvage a point from the match thereof. Last night’s result means defending champions ATK are on 9 points now and sit at 7th position in the league table.