Atletico and Goa play out goalless draw in first leg

FC Goa Andre Santos (blue jersey) against Atletico De Kolkata during Indian Super League semifinal match in Kolkata on Sunday. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

FC Goa Andre Santos (blue jersey) against Atletico De Kolkata during Indian Super League semifinal match in Kolkata on Sunday. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish  


Atletico de Kolkata effectively cast off the multiple problems besetting its camp by holding a more efficient FC Goa to a goalless draw in the first leg of the Indian Super League semifinals here at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday. This extended Atletico’s winless run to six matches — four draws and two losses.

The home side, which missed at least four of its regulars to injuries and suspension, belied expectations and dished out a brave display against Goa, which appeared a clear favourite ahead of the match.

The action now shifts to Margao, where the Goans will host the second-leg on Wednesday and hope to earn the lone goal win, which will be enough to seal a place in the final.

The first half offered a feast of attacking football that had a lot to do with Atletico’s new formation. With injured Ethiopian striker Firkru Lemessa sitting out, Habas promoted Mohammad Rafi upfront while giving his team’s marquee player Luis Garcia a more offensive role.

Habas pulled out three names — Sanju Pradhan, Rakesh Masih and Lester Fernandes — from the bench to get the balance right.

Taking his responsibility seriously, Garcia had the first look on goal in the sixth minute when he was set up on the goalmouth by a fine pass from Lester Fernandes. The former Liverpool midfielder responded with a sharp header, but it was off target. The host missed the chance for an early lead, but set the tone for a good contest.


Atletico kept up its relentless pursuit of a goal by forcing the visitor to retreat into its own citadel. Fielding a five-man midfield, the host employed the snatch-and-run method to good effect and scuttled Goa’s efforts to settle down into a rhythm.

The visitor’s attack, which revolves around the philosophy of its famed coach and former Brazilian star Zico, faltered in the finishing zone as the Spain-Botswana combination of Jose Miguel Gonzales and Oftense Nato in the Atletico defence effectively sealed the approach route to goal. This left Goa’s attackers Miroslav Slepicka and Andre Santos frustrated.

Playing to its strength in midfield, Atletico created more goal-bound moves, but Rafi and Rakesh Masih could not take their opportunities.

Goa’s French defensive duo of Gregory Arnolin and Youness Bengelloun maintained a tight vigil, preventing Garcia and Rafi from getting a close look on goal.

Slepicka had two opportunities to score the opening goal for Goa, but the Czech Republic striker was lethargic in his attempts in the 61st and 80th minutes — Atletico’s Cameroon ’keeper Edel Bete cutting off on both occasions.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 5:50:39 PM |

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