Kolkata: Fikru Teferra struck an equaliser off a dubious penalty decision to force a 1-1 draw for Atletico de Kolkata against a 10-man FC Goa and sneak into the semifinals of the Hero Indian Super League football tournament here today.
The Kolkata franchise will clash against the same Goan opponents in the home leg of the semis here Sunday before their away leg on December 17. Leaders Chennaiyin FC will face fourth-placed Kerala Blasters FC in the first leg semis in Kochi on Saturday.
Players of Atletico de Kolkata and FC Goa in action during ISL match at Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Wednesday. Pic/PTI
Needing at least a draw to make the cut, ATK trailed 0-1 at half-time after Edgar Marcelino's stunning 27th-minute goal in front of a cheering 37,238 attendance at the Yuva Bharati Krirangan. With nothing going their way, it was the US referee Baldomero Toledo who came to the rescue of the listless ATK as he awarded them a penalty after Fikru went down inside the box in the 66th minute.
The moment came a minute after Fikru's shot hit the post as ATK kept ruing their missed chances. TV replays showed that there was no contact from Bruno Pinheiro from behind but the referee thought otherwise and to their opponents' utter shock, sent off the FCG central defender.
Having lamented the poor referring all the way, ATK utilised this goof-up to perfection as Fikru coolly brought the equaliser that ensured their passage to the semis. The home franchise showed little unity and Fikru was seen shoving their midfieler Jakub Podany after a misspass in the
With the numerical disadvantage, the Goans on the other hand, held on as they finished second with 22 points, while ATK (10) finished third ahead of Kerala Blasters FC on goal difference. Earlier, Marcelino unleashed a right-footed screamer to give FC Goa the lead against the run of play.
It was a brilliant teamwork showed by FC Goa as Robert Pires set it up for Ranty Martins in front of the goal. Borja blocked it but the ball took the deflection and Edgar slammed it to the right hand top corner. ATK went all out with a flurry of ATK attacks in the first quarter but their quality of raids against FC Goa's sturdy defence put them down.
Earlier, Atletico de Kolkata made a couple of changes to their starting line-up as Luis Garcia and Rakesh Masih made way for Podany and Baljit Sahni. FC Goa, who have already qualified, made nine changes as Pires came back into the side along with Clifford Miranda and Youness Bengelloun.
The Goans finished second in the round robin league tallying 22 points from 14 matches, three more than Atletico.
Chennayin FC took the pole position, and would clash with fourth-placed Kerala Blasters FC.
The final is slated for Dec 20.