Kolkata: Nicolas Fedor’s 83rd minute strike added to Jordi Figueras’ spectacular own goal helped a 10-men Bengaluru FC do the double over defending champions ATK at the Viveknanda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium here on Saturday.
The 2-0 victory, their third consecutive win consolidated Bengaluru’s position at the top, who now have 28 points after 13 games. ATK with the same no of matches have 12.
But while the win set Bengaluru’s one foot into the play-offs, ATK’s season seems well over after four successive defeats and their seventh overall.
Jordi Montel’s howler as early as in the fourth minute put Bengaluru ahead from a move that should have been nulled at his feet. It had started after Edu Garcia found Udanta Singh on the right which the 21-year-old fired straight into the Spaniard. But instead of clearing, Montel’s attempted back-pass sailed past a diving Debjit Majumdar into the net.
Despite the horrendous start, the home side however slowly crawled back into the game and when Jayesh Rane’s thumping header hit the upright, ATK were fully awaken after holding onto Bengaluru FC opening onslaught.
It was ferocious start by the visitors that had the reigning champions at the back-foot right from the opening whistle. During which Udanta Singh and Subhasish Bose were making mockery of the ATK full-backs.
But as ATK eased into the game, it was they who had better chances. Bipin Singh’s cross that beat everyone to find Rane was on point and nearly led to the equaliser in the 32nd minute. Then Ryan Taylor tested Gurpreet Singh Sandhu with a powerful ranger. Minutes later, another of Bipin’s cross found Rane, but Subhasish prevented the goal with a timely tackle.
Robbie Keane soon came in after a gap of four matches amidst cheers from the crowd and nearly scored in the 75th minute. In between Bengaluru had been reduced to 10-men after Rahul Bheke was booked for the second time in the space of 11 minutes.
He could have well gone before after a high-tackle on Keegan Pereira, with the ball nowhere near him, but while the referee warned him with a yellow he was given marching orders in the 69th after another such challenge on Rane.
0-1 down and with time running fast, ATK put more men up-front, that gave Bengaluru some added space to work on and they replied with quick counter-attacks. Chhetri had found Miku, who headed wide and minutes later nearly scored the second after Debjit Majumdar made monkey of a routine save. It had set the Venezuelan clear on goal but Ashutosh Mehta made a goal-line save, to keep the scoreline down to 0-1.
The former Getafe man however found the net late into the game when he beat Figueras both with pace and position — culminating what was a nightmare for the Spaniard — to slot home past Majumdar. It was his 10th this season and took him to second on the scorers list.
ATK however slumped to their fourth home defeat and third successive driving them almost out of the contention for play-offs. They looked inspired after Robbie Keane entered but failed to find the net for the second time in two matches.