MUMBAI: Off the field, the Kolkata fans easily outshouted the Mumbai supporters. On it, ATK comfortably outplayed Mumbai City FC. A more organized midfield and sharper finishing saw ATK beat Mumbai 2-0 at the Mumbai City Arena, in an entertaining encounter on Saturday. Two first-half goals, one a sparkling team effort and the other supremely individual, saw ATK through against Mumbai. Pranoy Halder gave the visitors the lead in the 29th minute with a comfortable tap in, while Michael Soosairaj once again proved why he is one of the most promising talents in Indian football by conjuring a goal from nothing in the 43rd minute.
The win saw ATK leapfrog to No 1 in the Indian Super League standings. After 11 games, they are equal on points with FC Goa, at 21, but nosed ahead due to a better goal difference: 12 to Goa’s nine. The Mumbai City FC fans were forced into silence for most of the game as their team slumped to their third home defeat. Mumbai will remain fourth in the standings with 16 points from 11 matches. Mumbai, who beat Hyderabad 2-1 last Sunday for their first and only home win, were hoping to ride on the momentum.
Though they made early inroads into the ATK half, mainly through their foreign recruits Diego Carlos (Brazil) and Amine Chermiti (Tunisia), they were unable get on the scoreboard. ATK let Mumbai have possession, but a first glimpse of how effective they could be on the counter came in the 22nd minute when Jayesh Rane picked up the ball from the middle of the field and ran away with it. He sent an inch-perfect back pass to Roy Krishna, who just couldn’t squeeze it through the narrow angle and slotted it wide from the far post. Things came to a head seven minutes later.
ATK’s Javi Hernandez won the ball and flicked it to Krishna, who sent it through to David Williams on the left flank. The Australian striker took it inside the box and then squared it to Halder, who slotted home. While stretching for the ball though, Halder pulled his hamstring and was forced out of the game. As the medical staff were attending to him, a melee broke out in the middle of the field.
The player who came in for Halder, Soosairaj then spun some magic for ATK’s second goal. The Tamil Nadu talent, who has been converted into a wing-back by ATK coach Antonio Lopez Habas, showed why he is still so effective in attack. He met an innocuous Krishna header on the left, and curled the ball in just enough to evade the outstretched Amrinder Singh.