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KUWAIT CITY, Jan 19: Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) bolstered by news of the merger with Mohun Bagan, the country’s oldest football club, ATK blanked leaders FC Goa 2-0 in the Indian Super League fixture in Kolkata on Saturday played at the Salt Lake Stadium.
The high-voltage clash gained momentum in the second-half when Pritam Kotal’s rising header opened it up for the hosts, smarting from their first loss at home to Kerala Blasters in the last round. ATK’s Fijian captain Roy Krishna latched onto a free-kick on the righthand side inside the box and chipped the ball into the centre from the byline to an unmarked Kotal who got in between the Goa centre-backs and nodded the ball into the net to give the home side the lead.
The last season’s runners-up, who had won the opening leg 2-1, tried their best to attack but ATK were solid in their defence and did not let the visiting team to squeeze one into the net. With two minutes left in regulation time, Jayesh Rane redeemed himself for missing a sitter when he slided in the ball to seal the issue for ATK, as the home side went past Goa to occupy the top spot on goal difference.
Just moments earlier, Kotal had squandered a big opportunity in front of an open net. It was Krishna’s low cross from the right but the Indian forward blasted the ball over the bar from just a meter away. But there was action replay six minutes later with Krishna once again setting up for Rane to make amends. Both teams have 24 points from 13 matches as the race for the top spot intensified with seven games left. The group toppers will make the AFC Champions League and ATK, who will merge with Mohun Bagan in June, will look to make the most of it.
There were early threats at both ends with Javier Hernandez sending a strike wide after holding off his marker using his strength. At the other end, Manvir Singh cut in from the right fl ank and sent his effort inches wide of the frame. Ferran Corominas (Coro) went down inside the box after his excellent run was halted by Sumit Rathi with a sliding challenge but the referee shrugged away appeals for a penalty.
Goa custodian Mohamad Nawaz played his part in keeping the score line intact with a good save to stop Hernandez’s long-range free-kick midway through the first half. Jobby Justin’s close-range header from the resulting corner was also safely collected by the relieved custodian