IMAGE: ATKMB secured a win via penalties over defending champions HFC. Photograph: FSDL
ATK Mohun Bagan came out 4-3 victors on penalties against defending champions Hyderabad FC in the second leg of their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) playoff semi-final at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Monday to seal a spot in the final against Bengaluru FC.
The deadlock remained intact after 120 minutes of football before Vishal Kaith’s save from Javier Siverio’s penalty, followed by a miss from Bartholomew Ogbeche allowed ATKMB to win the shootout with captain Pritam Kotal’s spot kick.
The shootout itself was a reflection of Hyderabad’s struggle throughout the game to get any shots away to trouble their opponents.
A series of ATKMB attacks tested Hyderabad FC for most of the game. Glan Martins’ long-range effort flew inches wide of the far post. From the resulting goal kick, Gurmeet Singh played it straight to Dimitri Petratos, who ran at goal and took a shot while an unmarked Kiyan Nassiri waited. Moments later, Manvir Singh cut in and rattled the crossbar from the edge of the box.
Ten minutes into the second half, Hyderabad FC won a couple of corners but the closest they came was from an Ogbeche shot that rippled the outside of the net. At the other end of the pitch, a brilliant cross from Asish Rai went straight to Hugo Boumous, who side-footed to force a save out of Gurmeet.
Slavko Damjanovic was solid at the back for the Mariners, but the defender came close to giving them the lead in the 81st minute when Petratos whipped in a free kick and his shot went inches wide. Three minutes later, Siverio came on to register what would be Hyderabad FC’s only shot on target with a tame header.
The final attempt of regulation time came in the third minute of stoppage time when Carl McHugh headed Federico Gallego’s corner over the bar. In the eighth minute of the first period of extra time, Lalrinliana Hnamte came closest to breaking the deadlock when his shot from range grazed the outside of the far post.
Seconds away from the extra time break, Nikhil Poojary’s crucial interception kept Gallego’s cross away from Liston Colaco, who was right in front of goal. Tiring legs on both sides tried to force the issue in the second period, but the deadlock remained intact as the game went to penalties.
In the shootout, Kaith saved Siverio’s penalty before Ogbeche fired his spot-kick onto the post. Brendan Hamill, who was brought on in the 114th minute, missed for ATKMB, but they had enough of a cushion to seal the win in a game they dominated.
Having avenged the outcome of last season’s semi-final against Hyderabad FC, ATKMB are a win away from lifting their maiden Hero ISL title when they face Bengaluru FC in Goa on Saturday.
– Martins attempted 6 tackles and made 6 interceptions
– Poojary attempted 8 tackles, 5 clearances and 3 blocks
– Damjanovic made 9 clearances and attempted 3 tackles
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