[India], Dec 3 (ANI): ATK secured a 3-2 win over Chennaiyin FC in a thrilling encounter of the ongoing fifth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) here at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai on Sunday. The match witnessed end-to-end action throughout the ninety minutes and both teams engineered plenty of chances to score.
The three points against Chennai helped ATK rise to the fifth spot in the ISL table with 15 points from 10 matches. They are level on points with fourth-placed Jamshedpur, who are placed higher due to a superior goal difference.
For defending champions Chennaiyin, their poor start to the season continued. The two-time ISL winners are currently eighth in the standings, with just five points from 10 outings.
The match got off to an entertaining start with both teams creating early chances at both ends of the pitch. Chennaiyin missed a big chance on the seventh minute after Raphael Augusto found Andrea Orlandi with a cross from the left. The Chennaiyin no. 10 had time and space to shoot, but his attempt ended up on the wrong side of the post.
Almost immediately after, ATK's Balwant Singh found himself through on goal on the other end of the field and forced a smart save from Chennaiyin goalkeeper Sanjiban Ghosh.
With some end-to-end football on offer, it seemed only a matter of time before the first goal came along and it did on the 14th minute. ATK took the lead through a Jayesh Rane screamer. Rane, an ex-Chennaiyin player, received the ball outside the box and put his laces through it. The ball whizzed past Sanjiban and nestled itself in the top corner.
However, it took the home team only 10 minutes to draw things level. Mailson Alves fed Thoi Singh on the edge of the box, and the midfielder complied by slotting in a controlled shot beyond ATK goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya and inside the bottom corner. It was Thoi's fourth goal of the season.
The high tempo match showed no signs of slowing down and ATK came really close to reclaiming their lead just minutes later. Manuel Lanzarote found himself with a good shooting opportunity and tried to chip Sanjiban. The cheeky attempt ended up on the roof of the net and the chance went begging.
The ATK captain, however, made sure he made amends for the miss just before the half-time whistle. The Spaniard's pass found Hitesh Sharma unmarked inside the Chennaiyin penalty box. Hitesh's shot looked goalbound before hitting Eli Sabia's arm and the referee had no choice but to award a penalty.
Lanza stepped up to take the spot-kick and sent Sanjiban the wrong way. An absorbing 45 minutes of football ended with the score 2-1 in the away team's favour.
Chennaiyin started the second half on the front foot in an attempt to find the all-important equaliser, while ATK seemed content playing on the counter. Gerson Vieira tested Sanjiban from range after a quick breakaway move, but his shot lacked the venom to put the Chennaiyin custodian under any serious pressure.
Sanjiban's counterpart Arindam was called into action on the other end to snuff out a Chennaiyin chance.
The home team got a golden opportunity to level things up on the 64th minute. A brilliant through ball almost played substitute Carlos Salom through on goal. With the striker getting ready to pull the trigger, ATK's John Johnson intervened with a sensational tackle. Chennaiyin players appealed for a penalty, but the referee turned it down.
However, a goalmouth scramble on the 78th minute ended with the referee blowing the whistle to award ATK the second penalty of the match. Salom seemed to have made a terrific goal line clearance to keep out Johnson's header from a corner, but the Palestinian appeared to have unwittingly handled the ball during the follow up. Lanzarote converted the spot kick in a similar fashion to the first one and gave ATK a two-goal cushion.
The drama, however, was far from over. With minutes to go for the stoppage time to kick in, Thoi set up Isaac Vanmalsawma beautifully and the midfielder made sure he made it 3-2.
The home team threw everyone forward in search of the leveller and even created a few dangerous chances, but the ATK defence managed to hang on to ensure the victory. (ANI)