Super-sub Balwant breaks NorthEast hearts as ATK return to the top

A stoppage time winner by Balwant Singh helped ATK overcome a resilient NorthEast United FC side by a 1-0 scoreline in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Monday. ATK go back to the top of the table courtesy the win while the Highlanders stay on the ninth position with 11 points from 12 matches.

  • The first half ended with the two sides deadlocked at 0-0.
  • Michael Soosairaj’s effort was cleared off the goal line by the NorthEast defence in the 59th minute.
  • Substitute Balwant Singh scored the winner in stoppage time.

ATK asked most of the questions early on, particularly with Prabir Das marauding down the right flank time and again. He almost set up Roy Krishna for the opener in the 11th minute but a combination of Kai Heerings and Subhasish Roy denied the Fijian.

Almost immediately at the other end, Andrew Keogh forced a save out of ATK custodian Arindam Bhattacharja after a quick break. In fact, Arindam was called into action in quick succession in the next few minutes, first keeping out a cheeky flick by Mislav Komorski at the near post after a corner by debutant Simon Lundevall and then getting his fingertips to the ball to keep out Lalengmawia’s shot from inside the box.

The Highlanders’ ploy to make it difficult for the home team in the middle of the park by denying them any space was becoming fairly evident as the game progressed and it seemed to be working, with the ATK attackers creating little of note since the early Krishna chance. A clever run by Krishna, however, almost undid NorthEast’s resilience in the 39th minute. The striker ran in between two defenders to control a threaded through ball by Edu Garcia. Krishna only had Subhasish to beat but the NorthEast goalkeeper held strong, affecting a save with his legs.

Agustin Iniguez found space for a header from the resulting corner, but couldn’t quite get his connection right. NorthEast, too, had an opportunity to score before half time through a Martin Chaves header but Arindam did enough to make a save. The first 45 minutes ended with the score 0-0.

After a tentative start to the second half, ATK came close to disrupting the scoreboard around the hour mark after Michael Soosairaj latched onto Edu Garcia’s pass and somehow managed to squeeze the ball past Subhasish towards goal. Komorski, however, was vigilant and made a goal line clearance at the last second to keep the two teams deadlocked.

As the match progressed, ATK enjoyed more of the ball but the NorthEast defence continued to frustrate the ATK attackers. The home team had a presentable chance in the 69th minute as a set piece found its wat to an unmarked Pritam Kotal at the near post. The right back, however, fluffed his chance and sent his effort high and wide. Subhasish then lent a hand to keep out Javier Hernandez’s stinging shot from close range in the 78th minute.

With time ticking down, the game opened up in the final few minutes with both teams trying to steal a late winner. Going with the trend of the entire match, ATK had the better chances. The home side eventually found a way through deep into stoppage time after substitute Balwant Singh popped up inside the NorthEast box to nod a Javi corner home. The contest ended 1-0 in ATK’s favour.

Hero of the Match – Balwant Singh

Coming on as a late substitute, Balwant Singh made his presence felt as he notched up the late, late winner to finally break down a resolute NorthEast defence and handed ATK an important three points. His impact earned him the Hero of the Match award.

AWARDS

Club Award – ATK FC

Maruti Suzuki Limitless Player of the Match – Mislav Komorski

DHL Winning Pass of the Match – Javier Hernandez

ISL Emerging Player of the Match – Lalengmawia

Hero of the Match – Balwant Singh

Watch the match highlights here:

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