Atletico de Kolkata routed Mumbai City FC 3-0 in the opening match of the Indian Super League (ISL)
It has been on the mouth of every young football fan in India and it has finally begun. The much awaited Indian Super League has finally begun with the opening ceremony and first game in the iconic Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. The home team Atletico de Kolkata hosted Mumbai City FC.
Mumbai were without two very important players in Freddie Ljungberg out injured and Nicolas Anelka suspended due to his infamous Quenelle celebration while at West Bromwich Albion in the English Premier League.
Atletico de Kolkata: Subhashish; Denzil, Josemi, Arnab Mondal, Saha; Borja, Nato, Jofre, Garcia (C); Fikru, Sahni.
Mumbai City FC: Subrata; Deepak Mandal, Cmovs, Friedrich, Raju; Letzelter, Stohanzl, Tiago, Nabi (C); Nadaya, Ralte
After an amazing opening ceremony, introduction of team owners and their star players the match kicked off. The atmosphere in the ground was absolutely electrifying and lived up to the expectation.
A heated start to the game as within two minutes Mumbai captain Nabi earned a yellow card for a rash two footed tackle. Kolkata began on the front foot as they had already tested Mumbai keeper and Indian national Subrata Pal twice in the first 10 minutes. Mumbai slowly improved as the game went on and created a few of their own chances. Raju Gaikwad earned the second yellow card for Mumbai after blatantly handling the ball. Mumbai had a penalty appeal turned down after Nadaya was brought down by Josemi. Kolkata began from the back and GOAL! Fikru Teferra the Ethiopian striker is put through on goal with a sublime pass from Luis Garcia and he calmly chipped the ball over the on rushing Subrata Paul. Kolkata finally scored after a bevy of chances and deservedly took the lead.
Another booking for Mumbai as Stohanzl was booked for a rash barge on Borja. A good thundering free kick by Cmovs but directly at the keeper Subhashish Roy who saved comfortably. First player from Kolkata to be booked was Nato as he lunged in on Ralte. It was a heated affair as both teams played very physically. After 38 minutes, Mumbai captain Nabi clutched his ankle in pain and had to be stretchered off. He was replaced by 20 year old Nadong Bhutia.
At Half time, Atletico de Kolkata led 1-0 and were dominating for most parts of the first half. Peter Reid looked like he had a lot to say to his players.
Mumbai made a substitution with Brazilian Andre Moritz replacing Tiago at half time. Both the teams looked dangerous but no one came close to scoring. The 2nd goal came out of nowhere as Borja scored an absolute stunner with a half volley from 25 yards and the home stadium went into frenzy. The former Real Madrid player showed his class with that fantastic goal and might just be one of the best goals of the tournament.
Mumbai were creating chances but were not coming close to scoring as Shubhashish Roy pulled off two magnificent saves. Moritz had his free kick from 25 yards but it was deflected wide. One more time Atletico de Kolkata created a brilliant attack which nearly resulted in a goal. Baljit Sahni’s header was brilliantly saved by Subrata. Mumbai tried to create chances but Kolkata had taken a defensive approach and were slowly choking out the Mumbai attacks.
As the game headed into the 90th minute it looked more likely that Mumbai had now run out of options.
Just before the final whistle the match saw a 3rd Goal. It could be said that it was against the run of play as Lilbert, the substitute who replaced captain Luis Garcia, scored in the dying seconds. He made a darting run into the box and an inch perfect cross made it even easier for him as the Mumbai defenders were caught ball watching. Lilbert got booked as he took off his shirt while celebrating but that would be the last of his worries after scoring a goal.
Atletico de Kolkata earned a much deserved victory while Mumbai City FC will be ruing their missed chances and would be hoping that they improve for their next game.
Man Of The Match: Borja Fernandez.