FC Goa held in Kolkata, finish second
Atlético de Kolkata found a late equaliser through a Fikru Teferra penalty to cancel out Edgar Marcelino's first half opener for FC Goa in a 14th round match of the Hero Indian Super League at the Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday. The 1-1 draw enabled the hosts to finish in third place with 19 points and set up a semi-final duel with the same opponents who finished second on 22 points.
The two sides will meet in Kolkata for their first semi-final encounter on December 14 and play the second leg in Goa on December 17. Table toppers Chennaiyin FC will take on fourth placed Kerala Blasters FC in the other semifinal.
Kolkata started the first half on the front foot knowing that a victory over Goa would seal their passage to the semifinals. Their main attacking outlet for the home side was Fikru. The Ethiopian international used his strength to advantage to win aerial battles and keep the ball which Kolkata did effectively for the first 15 minutes. Thereafter, Goa began to get more and more involved in the game.
Robert Pirès, who was drafted back into the makeshift Goa side in which several regulars were rested, played the role of central holding midfielder and distributed play well. Bruno Pinheiro was a rock at the back for the visitors as he got in the way of every attack that came his way. It was Goa who took the lead unexpectedly. Pirès fed the ball to Ranti Martins who took a shot from distance which was well blocked. The ball fell kindly for Marcelino, starting only his second game, and the Portuguese player smashed it past goalkeeper Apoula Edel Bete from outside the box.
In the second session the home side came out with attacking intent knowing that they needed a goal to stay in the competition, with Luis García coming in off the bench. They dominated the opening exchanges but couldn't find the breakthrough. Goa also created a few more chances of their own but were unable to increase their lead.
Kolkata's persistence finally paid off through Fikru who powered his way past the Goa defence. Pinheiro, who tailed him, attempted to make the challenge but the striker appeared to trip on his heel and went down in the box. The referee pointed to the spot and sent an unlucky Pinheiro off. Fikru wrongfooted Laxmikant Kattimani and put his penalty to the right of the goalkeeper in the 68th minute. Thereafter, it was Kolkata all the way but they couldn't get the second to kill the game off.
Hero of the Match: Fikru Teferra (Atlético de Kolkata) (Watch here)
Swift Moment of the Match: Fikru Teferra
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Peter Carvalho (FC Goa)
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Baljit Sahni (Atlético de Kolkata)