ISL: ATK edge past Chennaiyin FC in hard-fought battle
Chennai: Chennaiyin FC's poor start to their Indian Super League (ISL) campaign continued as they lost by a solitary goal to ATK at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium here on Wednesday.
After a goalless first half, ATK took the lead in the 48th minute through David Williams, scoring the ISL's 1,000th goal in the process. The visitors proceeded to hold on to their advantage and inflict a second defeat on Chennaiyin, who are yet to score this season.
The result sees ATK join Jamshedpur FC at the top of the table with six points from three games, while Chennaiyin remain eighth with just a point.
Though the teams started with intent, it was the home team who had the best of the chances in the opening period. Edwin Vanspaul found Nerijus Valskis with a cross in the third minute, only for the Lithuanian striker to head it over.
A deflection five minutes later sent Lallianzuala Chhangte in space down the left. His ball across the face of the goal, however, could not be turned in by his teammates.
Chennaiyin continued to fashion chances but ATK had some of their own. Michael Soosairaj took matters into his own hands with a surging run and found Williams in space. Javier Hernandez was able to get a shot away from Williams' cutback but saw it blocked by defender Lucian Goian.
Just past the half an hour mark, Roy Krishna found himself in space just outside the area and unleashed a rasping drive which was blocked by Goian again.
After a goalless opening 45 minutes, the visitors drew first blood three minutes after the restart with Prabir Das doing exceptionally well to get behind the defence down the right flank before finding Hernandez. The Spaniard's shot was deflected into the path of Williams who slotted it in to stun the home team.
As expected, Chennaiyin mounted a fightback with coach John Gregory throwing on Andre Schembri in place of Dragos Firtulescu. Around the hour mark, Vanspaul unleashed a powerful drive from distance that had Arindam Bhattacharya scrambling. A minute later, good interplay between Chhangte and Rafael Crivellaro saw the latter get to the byline and slide a ball across but nobody in a blue shirt could get a decisive touch.
Shortly afterwards, ATK were forced to tweak their game plan after Soosairaj went down with an injury and coach Antonio Habas responded by sending in Jayesh Rane.
Chances continued to stream in for Chennaiyin but they let themselves down with their finishing. In the 72nd minute, a good bit of play between Thapa and Schembri saw the latter find space to shoot but he dragged his effort wide. A minute later, Crivellaro's cross was deflected goalward by Pritam Kotal but Bhattacharya got down smartly to save.
Chennaiyin continued to pile the pressure on a rock-solid ATK in a bid to find an equaliser. But they were frustrated by a well-drilled defence as ATK returned home with three points.