Atletico de Kolkata beat Kerala Blasters 2-1 in a thriller at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Atletico de Kolkata got off to a flying start in this clash of the titans.
Javi Lara's shot from distance in the fourth minute of the game struck the crossbar. The shot had a lot of venom in it and the Kerala Blasters goalkeeper Stephen Bywater was completely beaten, but fortunately the ball did not find the back of the net. Lara was adjudged the hero of the match for his outstanding performance in the game against the Blasters.
In less than 75 seconds after that strike, Lara was involved in yet another attack and his chip found Iain Hume inside the penalty box. The Canadian forward went for the goal but Bywater punched it away. The ball ended up at Arata Izumi's feet and he blasted past the goalkeeper giving the home side an early lead in this all-important fixture.
Kerala Blasters defender Gurwinder Singh hurt his ankle when Izumi went for the shot and was immediately substituted for Ramandeep Singh.
The Atletico de Kolkata forwards were constantly lurking in and around the penalty box and were constantly testing the Kerala Blasters defense.
Blasters' forwards Chris Dagnall and Sanchez Watt could not make much of an impact in the first half of the game as the Atletico de Kolkata defenders made sure they cleared the ball to safety everytime a threat zoomed in towards their penalty box.
The Atletico de Kolkata goalkeeper Juan Catalayud saved Mehtab Hossain's shot from a distance in the 34th minute of the game.
The visitors started off well in the second half but Javi Lara yet again breached their defence. A brilliant solo move from the Spaniard earned him the second goal of the match in the 53rd minute.
Atletico de Kolkata defenders stood tall in the defensive line and did not let the Kerala Blasters forwards run through them.
The home side could have scored a couple more but the chances went begging. Borja Fernandez had firm control over the midfield and was involved in a number of attacks.
But in the last 15 minutes of the game, Kerala Blasters turned on the heat. They pulled back one goal in the 81st minute. Peter Ramage floated a ball towards the penalty box area and Chris Dagnall guided the ball into the back of the net. Sanchez Watt could have equalised a minute later, but the ball flew past the post. That was agonisingly close as well.
Kerala Blasters kept on trying hard in the last few minutes of the game and at a point it looked like Kolkata would end up drawing yet another game. Mehtab Hossain, though, received a second yellow of the game and was sent off in the 90th minute, leaving Kerala Blasters down to 10 men. That made the comeback more difficult, allowing ATK to pick up the three points.