ATK Mohun Bagan qualify for the AFC Cup inter-zone semi-final after draw against Bashundhara
ATK Mohun Bagan reached the AFC Cup inter-zone semi-final after a 1-1 draw against Bangladesh’s Bashundhara Kings at the National Football Stadium in Male (Maldives) on Tuesday. With seven points from three games, the Mariners topped Group D South Zone after David Williams scored for them in 62nd minute, cancelling out Fernandes’ strike in the 28th minute. Antonio Lopez Habas’ men will now play the winners of Wednesday’s match between FC Nasaf and Ahal FC. The inter-zone semi-final tie will be played next month.
- Fernandes broke the deadlock in ṭhe 28th minute.
- Sushanto Tripura got a red card in first-half injury time.
- Williams found the equaliser in the 62nd minute.
In the 14th minute, Bashundhara Kings threw a big scare into ATK Mohun Bagan with successive attacks. First through a header from a set-piece and then seconds later Irishman Carl McHugh had to come up with a goal-line clearance to deny the 2021 Bangladesh Premier League champions.
In the 18th minute, ATK Mohun Bagan got a golden opportunity to take the lead in the contest but Liston Colaco, to the horror of his team-mates -- particularly Williams who had provided the pass after dodging a couple of opposition defenders -- failed to score when he had the entire goal to himself.
Five minutes later another chance went begging for the Mariners as Roy Krishna’s bicycle attempt went just over the crossbar.
Those missed chances at last cost the Mariners dear. In the 28th minute, Bashundhara went ahead in the contest. Fernandes was given too much time and space in the box and he took full advantage of it and unleashed an angled right-footed shot from the left past goalkeeper Amrinder Singh to stun the Kolkata-based side.
In the 40th minute, Krishna came tantalising close to equalising but his shot from inside the box was blocked by a Kings defender. Three minutes later Williams tested Kings goalkeeper Anisur Rahman Zico from distance and forced him into a diving save.
The Kings were overly aggressive all through the first half as four yellow cards would attest but things really went haywire for them when Sushanto Tripura was shown a red card for his aggression against Subhasish Bose in first-half injury time. Even though the Mariners went into the break trailing, they would have backed themselves to make their man advantage count in the second half.
The Kings, as expected, started the second half with a lot of emphasis on defence and it took ATK Mohun Bagan a while to get going. In the 60th minute, Bose put a nice ball in along the ground across the goal but Krishna couldn’t reach in time.
Two minutes later, Williams found the equaliser for the Mariners. Colaco made up for the miss earlier in the match and after dodging a defender on the left, laid the ball off for the Australian striker to find the back of the net with all the nonchalance in the world.
In the 72nd minute, Williams again brought Zico into action through a well-hit strike from distance. The Kings goalkeeper made a fabulous save as he dove to his left to thwart the danger.
Bashundhara stepped on the gas in the last 10 minutes or so but the ATK Mohun Bagan defenders were equal to the task in the box and didn’t give the opposition attackers any time and space, and the match eventually ended in a 1-1 draw, just the result the Mariners needed.