Kolkata, December 25: ATK delivered the perfect Christmas present for their supporters with a 1-0 win against defending champions Bengaluru FC in the Hero Indian Super League at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium here on Wednesday.
After a goalless yet intriguing first 45 minutes, David Williams (47′) scored in crackling fashion. The visitors’ half-cooked attempts to get back into the game failed and the hosts’ defence then did an exceptional job of keeping the Bengaluru attack at bay.
The three points at home has helped Antonio Habas’ men to the top of the Hero ISL table. ATK have 18 points, the same tally as Goa, having played a game more. Bengaluru are third, with 16 points from 10 matches.
ATK threatened as early as the second minute. Williams chipped the ball into the path of Krishna who ran in behind the defence and struck the side-netting with just goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to beat. Two minutes later, a poor pass back to the keeper by Rahul Bheke allowed Krishna to chase the ball but Gurpreet rushed off his line to kick the ball away from danger.
The visitors struggled to get into the game and were dependent on set-pieces to create openings in the first half. Dimas Delgado took a free-kick from just outside the box midway through the half but failed to test goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya.
While ATK threatened with fast counters, the Blues were made to work hard for chances. Delgado played a wonderful diagonal to release Udanta Singh in behind the defence but the India international pulled out of his chase at the last minute without getting a shot away as Arindam rushed to collect.
A determined ATK broke the deadlock two minutes into the second half. Krishna charged at the defence and attempted a through-ball for Williams which Bheke failed to properly clear. Jayesh Rane poked the loose ball into the path of Williams who unleashed a terrific strike that flew past Gurpreet and bulged the net.
Bengaluru stepped up their efforts to get back into the game but struggled to work the ATK custodian. A deflected Harmanjot Khabra cross from the right close to the hour-mark fell perfectly for an unmarked Delgado whose first-time effort from inside the box flew wide.
The Bengaluru attack failed to muster clear-cut chances against a solid ATK defence led by Agus Garcia. The home side was happy to sit back, hit the visitors on the counter and the organized approach triumphed on the night to secure three points.