Kolkata: FC Goa seems to be unstoppable at the moment. Despite reaching the city barely two hours before the rescheduled kick-off, the ‘Gaurs’ put up a splendid performance to hold defending champions ATK to a 1-1 draw at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium on Wednesday.
Drama before the match seemed find no ending as the kick-off was deferred a record four times before it finally happened at 10:43pm, two hours and 43 minutes behind schedule. Such delay didn’t hurt home team’s fan base though as the Salt Lake Stadium pulsated with cheers of ATK, ATK, when Robbie Keane headed home a Ryan Taylor free-kick as early as the fourth minute.
Playing against a team that spent an entire day in the airport with no proper food or rest, the defending champions seemed destined for a win coming close to scoring a couple of goals in the opening minutes. But Goa’s response was breath-taking.
Overcoming the early fatigue evident in their sluggish movements the ‘Gaurs’ threaded some beautiful passing game that opened up a compact ATK defense, as the visitors eventually found an equaliser just 20 minutes after conceding.
A long clearance from Kattimani on goal somehow found Manuel Lanzarote on the wings, and the Spaniard did little to find his partner in crime, fellow countryman Ferran Corominas who made no mistake to send it past a rushing Prabir Das, with ATK goalkeeper Debit Majumdar well out of sight.
Little did Goa look tired as the match progressed into the second-half, with ATK chasing the ball at regular intervals. While a draw would have made Sergio Lobera satisfied given the circumstances they arrived in, the duo of Lanzarote and Corominas nearly snatched a win against an ATK side that were on a winning match of two runs.
Not many coaches would have the guts continue their attacking brand of football after all the turmoil Goa had to go through but Sergio Lobera’s response was impeccable that nearly saw the away side ran away victorious in this historic encounter that ended a day after it had started.
Despite the draw Goa deservingly upped a notch higher to the fourth position with 13 points from seven outings, while ATK remained seventh with just nine points from the same number of matches as Goa.