ISL: Kolkata closer to last four after goalless draw with Delhi
New Delhi: Atletico de Kolkata inched closer towards clinching a semi-final berth as they played out a goalless draw with Delhi Dynamos in a 12th round encounter of the Indian Super League, here yesterday.
The draw didn't harm the Kolkata outfit much as they now clawed back to second position in the league table with 18 points from 12 games. For Dynamos, Souvik Chakraborty's miss hurt them badly as 14 points from 12 games kept them in fifth position and even two wins might not be enough to make the final-four cut.
With an eye on the semi-final spot, ATK coach Antonio Lopez Habas employed an ultra defensive technique trying to hit the opponent with sporadic counter-attacks. With Ethiopian striker Fikru Tefera continuing his bad run, ATK's best player -- left winger Jakub Podany cut a lonely figure during attack with Indian recruit Baljit Sahni not measuring up.
Habas' decision not to increase numbers upfront worked in a way as they cut a lot of Dynamos attack in the middle third with Spanish mideo Borja Fernandes and Ofentse Nato foiling the moves.
In the 57th minute, Dynamos' Brazilian playmaker Gustavo dos Santos cut in from the left flank and took a left footed crack which was saved by a diving ATK goalie Edel Bete. At the start, it was ATK that made the first move in the 7th minute with their left winger Podany racing down left flank cutting past Adil Khan and Mudler but his cross was an ill-directed one.
The easiest chance in the first half came Delhi's way in the 16th minute when Souvik Chakraborty failed to beat ATK custodian Bete from handshaking distance on the wide left of the top box after Mads Junker freed him with a splitting assist.
Czech winger Podany's mobility down wide left spelt danger for Delhi defence as ATK tried hitting on the counter in the 18th minute. He raced down left to keep a perfect pull back for Fikru, who sold a dummy to catch Dynamos' defenders Houben and Anwar on wrong foot. To their horror Baljit Sahni, with all the time in the world, shot off-target.
Podany couldn't hide his frustration when he again raced down only to find Baljit not in position to have a crack at goal. He tried despite narrow angle but Anwar intercepted well.