Clash between table-toppers ends in a draw
Table toppers Atlético de Kolkata and second-placed Chennaiyin FC battled it out to a goalless draw at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata in front of 46,288 fans tonight. It was a no holds barred encounter that saw end to end action marked by some interesting midfield moves. However, with defences dominating, there were few chances at either end, though both sides had clear cut chances to wrap up full points.
Balwant Singh did get the ball into the net in the 81st minute after substitute Jean Eudes Maurice had set him up, but the goal was ruled out for handball and the striker was booked.
Both sides move up to 13 points from eight games with the home side keeping their nose ahead at the top of the table due to a superior goal difference.
The match started off at a frenetic pace which lasted all through the encounter. The two best chances of the first half fell to each side. A slick passing move between Fikru Teferra and Ofentso Nato in the 21st minute sliced through the Chennai defence but the Ethiopian striker placed the ball wide of the target.
At the other end, the home goal had a couple of close shaves once the game resumed after an interruption of about 12 minutes caused by a power failure. Subhasish Roy Chowdhury missed the ball completely after an Elano freekick but Balwant failed to take advantage. When the ball came back in from a Dane Pereira cross, Elano essayed a powerful header but the Kolkata goalkeeper pulled off an incredible save.
The second half was an equally well-contested affair, although chances were few and far between. Elano, who went without scoring for the second successive match, put in a nice ball for Balwant in the 56th minute but Roy Chowdhury rushed out and averted danger.
The best chance to break the deadlock in the second half belonged to the hosts. Luis García rattled the crossbar with a left-footed free kick with goalkeeper Gennaro Bracigliano well and truly beaten. The free kick was awarded after Mikaël Silvestre was ruled to have fouled Fikru just outside the Chennai box. The Ethiopian striker and rival centre half Marco Materazzi were involved in several tangles in the course of the match but thankfully matters did not get out of hand.
Kolkata host NorthEast United FC at home on November 18 while Chennai take on FC Pune City in their backyard the next day.
Hero of the Match: Jofre (Atlético de Kolkata)
Swift Moment of the Match: Jofre
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Fikru Teferra (Atlético de Kolkata)
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Lester Fernandez (Atlético de Kolkata)