ISL 2016: Atletico de Kolkata, NorthEast United share the spoils after late equaliser from Iain Hume
Canadian footballer Iain Hume's last-ditch goal earned Atletico de Kolkata a crucial point in a 1-1 draw against NorthEast United FC in an Indian Super League (ISL) match here on Thursday.
Kolkata: Canadian footballer Iain Hume's last-ditch goal earned Atletico de Kolkata a crucial point in a 1-1 draw against NorthEast United FC in an Indian Super League (ISL) match here on Thursday.
NorthEast conceded a goal in the last minute of regulation time after taking an early lead to hand Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) a crucial point at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium.
Argentina's Nicolas Velez helped the away side take lead in the fifth minute. But their hopes of snapping a four-match losing streak evaporated when Hume restored parity in the 90th minute to avoid what looked like their third defeat in five outings.
ATK coach Jose Molina made three changes in the team, playing Javi Lara, Stephen Pearson and Arnab Mondal in place of the injured Sameehg Doutie, Jewel Raja and Tiri.
NorthEast coaach Coach Nelo Vingada shocked everyone by dropping marquee player Didier Zokora, replacing him with Brazilian Gustavo Lazzaretti.
Romaric also returned to the starting line-up with Robert Cullen making way for him, while Nirmal Chettri, Robin Gurung and Emiliano Alfaro were also given starts.
The visitors took the lead moments after taking the field, making the most of some slack defending by ATK.
ATK defender Henrique Sereno -- with forward Emiliano Alfaro breathing down his neck -- miscued his pass.
NorthEast forward Nicolas Velez dribbled past ATK goalkeeper Debjit Majumder to slot the ball home.
Rattled by the early setback, the hosts tried to regroup with marquee striker Helder Postiga and midfielder Stephen Pearson coming close to drawing level in an otherwise tepid first 45 minutes.
At halftime, ATK trailed by the solitary goal.
Looking to turn the tide of the tie, Molina substituted and off-colour Lalrindika Ralte with Abhinash Ruidas after the breather.
But fortunes refused to change for the past champions as the closest they came to scoring was from a Javi Lara corner which was headed wide from the goalline.
At the other end, NorthEast's Japanese midfielder Yusa Katsumi crossed for striker Emiliano Alfaro but the Uruguayan's shot was blocked by Debjit.
Alfaro got a second opportunity minutes later when he had an open goal in front of him but somehow conjured to head straight at Debjit pulled off a good reflex save.
Vingada brought in Shouvik Ghosh and Zokora late on to see off the tie and seal the win.
Just when things looked good for them, Hume stabbed in a Postiga headed pass from a Lara free-kick into the net.
The AFC did not give any reason but asked the participating teams to either return home or not to proceed to Maldives for the matches.
ATK Mohun Bagan's Prabir Das, SK Sahil test positive for COVID-19 before flying to Maldives for AFC Cup tie, says report
Under the AFC protocols, competing players will have to have COVID-19 negative reports two days before departure from their home base.
AIFF president Praful Patel says he will write to state governments for vaccination of senior footballers
Considering the extraordinary circumstances, AIFF technical director Isac Doru recommended doing away with relegation in I-League for the season that concluded recently.