NEW DELHI: A dramatic game of football at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Monday saw ATK Mohun Bagan and Hyderabad FC play out a thrilling 2-2 draw. The match had it all, quality goals, a red card but the result does not do either team any favour.
A win would have seen the Mariners lift the League Winners Shield and book an AFC Champions League spot. But now they will have to bag at least a point from their final game against second placed Mumbai City FC or hope that the Islanders do not win their penultimate game. Mumbai are six points behind currently.
Hyderabad remain fourth with 28 points from 19 games and are two points behind FC Goa in third, whom they will face in their final league game. They are unbeaten in 11 games now and have secured the second-best unbeaten run in ISL history. Interestingly, fifth placed NorthEast United FC are a point behind and have the easier of the run-ins compared to the other two teams.
On the night, the Nizams suffered an early blow as central defender Chinglensana Singh was shown a straight red for thwarting David Williams who was clean through on goal. That came in the fifth minute of the game and at that stage of the match, it would have taken a brave soul to bet against the Kolkata club.
But against the run of play, Hyderabad skipper Aridane Santana put his side ahead. Pritam Kotal's lazy back pass to his keeper fell to Santana who slotted it home amid chaos inside the box. goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya also did not cover himself in glory.
But Antonio Habas' team have shown they have the ability to fight back and they did so right at the start of the second half.
David Williams sent in a through ball towards Manvir Singh on the right flank and the Indian forward's first time shot crept in from a narrow angle. HFC keeper Laxmikant Kattimani made a huge blunder by going down on his knees too early.
Manolo Marquez's team did not let their heads drop and an inspired substitution in the form of Roland Alberg saw them take the lead once again. Santana escaped his marker with his strength and managed to head the ball towards the edge of the box. It fell to the substitute who beat ATKMB custodian Arindam with a wonderful finish with practically his first touch of the ball.
But it ended in heart break as Pritam Kotal equalised in added time after a melee inside the box. There were suspicions of off-side but in the end, it ended with both bagging a point each. In another set back, Hyderabad will miss the services of their inspirational skipper in the final game due to accumulation of yellow cards.
Marquez was happy with his team's displays considering they played 85 minutes a man down. "This was a very good performance from my team. We were down to 10 players as early as the fourth minute against ATKMB. I'm proud of my player because it was difficult. It was a shame that we conceded that last goal. But it is impossible to not be proud of my players."
Habas was far from pleased despite the late equaliser. "Disappointed with the performance. We had to win today considering we had a numerical advantage early on. But we didn't capitalise."