Kolkata earn battling draw in semi-final first leg
Atlético de Kolkata were held to a goalless draw against FC Goa at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata in the first leg of the second semi-final. The home side were on the back foot for major periods of the game and played on the counterattack. Goa dominated proceedings but were unable to get a goal which would have given them a massive advantage ahead of the second leg.
Kolkata came out looking positive in the first few minutes of the match as they kept possession of the ball and drove forward. But without the physical presence of Fikru Teferra up front, they found it hard to get any end product. Thereafter, Goa began to take control of the game as they bossed the midfield. The passing was a little wayward at first but Zico’s men managed to improve that as the half went on. André Santos picked up where he left off in the league phase, controlling the game from his midfield berth. His teammate, Mandar Rao Desai, fashioned the first good chance of the match, dancing his way past a few defenders on the left side of the Kolkata box and then lifting a beautifully weighted cross towards Romeo Fernandes running in at the far post. The diminutive Goan, however, failed to apply the finishing touch.
Fernandes nearly made amends soon after, collecting the ball in midfield and running towards goal before taking a good shot at the goalkeeper. Apoula Edel Bete was up to the task, parrying that effort, with defensive midfielder Ofentse Nato doing well to clear the rebound. There were few other chances of note in the half, as the teams went into the break level.
It was more of the same in the second half as Goa pushed forward, while Kolkata played on the counter. The away side continued to dominate proceedings as they kept the ball and moved it around well. However, Goa nearly went behind, when a Kolkata free kick was floated across the six-yard-box, but no striker was able to apply the finishing touch. At the other end, Goa striker Miroslav Slepička was a constant threat, benefiting from good service from his attack. The closest he came was when Santos chipped a delightful ball over the defence to find the Czech man, but his effort at goal was surprisingly tame. Fernandes also had a chance later in the half when Slepička chased a long ball forward and slipped the winger in, but Edel managed to come off his line quickly to deny the Goans the lead. The introduction of Cavin Lobo for Kolkata made the contest more even, as the Goan-born Kolkata midfielder helped his side keep more possession. However, in the end, neither side managed to score.
Goa will be the happier of the two sides having kept the home side out and will bank on their incredible home support to take this tie over the line in the second leg. Kolkata however will take heart from their 1-2 win in Goa during the league phase.
Hero of the Match: Grégory Arnolin (FC Goa)
Swift Moment of the Match: Apoula Edel Bete (Atlético de Kolkata)
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Ofentse Nato (Atlético de Kolkata)
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Romeo Fernandes (FC Goa)