After the glitz and glamour of the opening ceremony at the Salt Lake stadium, the…
On paper, not many expected a team on the back of three straight defeats to beat a side flying high, having won their last three games. Throwing the form guide out of the window were Atletico de Kolkata. The visitors caused a major upset in the Indian Super League (ISL), beating Mumbai City FC 4-1 at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Sunday. The wounded Bengal Tigers struck their heaviest blow.
The star for last year’s champions was Canadian striker Ian Hume, who notched a hat-trick, the second at the venue in as many games after Sunil Chhetri’s feat against NorthEast United on Wednesday. The win, Kolkata’s first in four games, took the defending champions to 10 points from six games. What’s more, their three-goal winning margin saw them leapfrog Mumbai City FC to fifth place in the standings. Marquee manager-cum-player Anelka made two changes from the team that had thumped NorthEast United 5-1 in their last encounter.
The Frenchman himself replaced compatriot Frederic Piquionne as the lead striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation, while Juan Aguilera came in the place of Cristian Bustos in the heart of midfield.
It was the visitors who started the first half on the front foot with Hume jumping into the action of every move. Being the focal point of all of Kolkata’s passes, it was easy to spot the 32-year-old, who had his head bandaged due to the foul he suffered from Delhi Dynamos’ Anas Edathodika in their last game. Their patience in front of the goal finally paid dividends in the 34th minute with Hume giving Kolkata the lead. A quick counter-attack by the visitors saw midfielder Jaime Gavilan sending in a well floated ball to find Hume in the box. The Canadian took a first time half-volley with his right foot to leave goalkeeper Subrata Paul with absolutely no chance.
Just when one thought Mumbai FC City would go into the half-time with a one-goal deficit, midfielder Subhash Singh brought down Gavilan in the box with the clumsiest of tackles in the 45th minute. With the referee pointing towards the spot, it was Hume, who slotted past Paul to give Kolkata a 2-0 cushion as they made their way to the tunnel at half-time. With their backs to the wall, Anelka went for broke and introduced all of his three available substitutes after the break. Rowilson Rodrigues replacing Singh, Frederic Piquionne making way for Frantz Bertin and Selim Benachour coming on for Darren O’Dea.
The move did seem to have a positive impact on the home side with Anelka and Piquionne testing goalkeeper Amrinder Singh from distance. Singh came to his side’s rescue in the 61st minute with an outstanding save from Piquionne, who fired one with his right foot, after some intelligent play between him and Juan Aguilera. Gavilan, having a game to remember, was finding himself in all sorts of space. Just two minutes later, his well floated ball found Hume to leave the Mumbai defence wanting. Hume, latching on to it first time, slammed it with his right foot only for his shot to hit the post, much to the relief of Paul.
The home side finally breached the defence of Amrinder Singh in the 71st minute. Selim Benachour, who missed his side’s win against NorthEast United due to his father’s demise, gave the fans some reason to cheer about. Sunil Chhetri found his shot blocked by Singh only for the Tunisian to latch onto the rebound and slot the ball into the net.
Just as they did in the first half, Kolkata struck a hammer blow when momentum seemed to be swinging Mumbai’s way.
Stopwatch: Mumbai City 1 FC (S Benachour 71) lost to Atletico de Kolkata 4 (I Hume 34, 45, 82, A Fernandes 77)