ATK staged a thrilling comeback to reach the ISL final, as they beat defending champions Bengaluru FC 3-1 in the second leg of their semi-final at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in presence of fifty-five thousands strong home supporters.
Bengaluru previously won the first leg 1-0 at Sree Kanteerava Stadium last week, and went ahead 1-0 within fifth minute of the match, as Ashique Kuruniyan scored the early goal. Krishna (30′) pulled one back in the first half. David Williams then did the star turn for ATK with a brace in the second half (63′, 79′) to send his team through to the final against Chennaiyin FC on Saturday.
Ashique put the visitors into the lead as early as in the fifth minute as he got on the end of a pass from Nili Perdomo at centre-line. The winger skipped past the challenge by Sumit Rathi, made a 20-25 yards solo run through right flank for 20-25 yards, and beat Arindam Bhattacharya at the near post to hand Bengaluru the advantage. Bengaluru were lucky as the referee ignored the fact that ball touched Nili’s hand as he intercepted the ball. The ATK squad, stopped momentarily expecting referee would stop the play, which did not happen.
Bengaluru custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had to intervene, when Roy Krishna crossed the ball from Prabir Das and laid it for the onrushing Williams, who was denied by Gurpreet.
Just at the half-hour mark, the home side pulled one back. Williams found Prabir Das, who in turn crossed towards Roy Krishna at the near post. The highest goal scorer slotted into the back of the net in a one touch effort.
After the break, ATK continued to see more of the ball but struggled to carve open the rigid Bengaluru defence. The visitors were happy to put bodies behind the ball and hit the opposition with quick counterattacks.
In the 60th minute, Suresh Wangjam made the gravest mistake, as his dangling leg came in the way of Williams inside penalty. The referee awarded a spot-kick. Williams sent Gurpreet the wrong way to make the scoreline 2-1.
Bengaluru did come close to equalizing when Chhetri’s free-kick found Dimas at the near post and his attempt to flick it in went a few inches wide.
Antonio Habas threw Mandi Sosa and Jayesh Rane into the mix as the Kolkata side searched for their third goal.
Arindam made a crucial save in the 75th minute as Suresh sent an inch-perfect ball for Kevaughn Frater but the Jamaican striker’s shot from point-blank range was saved by the ATK custodian.
Four minutes later, Das and Williams combined once again to put ATK ahead on aggregate. Rane sent Das to the byline down the right-wing and his cross was headed in brilliantly by Williams, beating Gurpreet all ends up.