Guwahati, Oct 23 (IANS) A 77th minute strike from Argentine forward Nicolas Velez helped NorthEast United down Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) 1-0 in an Indian Super League (ISL) encounter here on Friday.
It was NorthEast’s second successive win after a 2-0 triumph over Chennaiyin FC on Tuesday and they are now sixth on the league table with half a dozen points from five games. ATK remain fourth with seven points from five outings. The lack of finishing upfront led Atletico to their second successive loss, the first time they have suffered this fate in the two-year history of the ISL.
Both teams were on the attack from the word go, but even though NorthEast had the better percentage of the possession, it was Atletico who were creating quite a few chances in the opening minutes. Just about five minutes into the contest, Atletico midfielder Javi Lara’s strong shot was spilled by Rehenesh T.P. but he managed to kick the ball away to safety before Iain Hume could get to it. A few minutes later, Spanish medio Borja Fernandez set up Gavilan Fernandez with a sublime cross but the latter’s first-time volley fizzed past the NorthEast post. The hosts, however, reversed the course of the play soon by creating a few chances of their own.
Bruno Arias almost found his freekick at the back of the Atletico net but goalkeeper Amrinder Singh pulled of an outstanding save diving to his left. Arias was at it again, this time with a cross which was punched away by Amrinder. But the ball fell in the way of Reagan Singh whose crisp volley was again acrobatically fisted over the bar by the ATK custodian. Both teams went into halftime with the scoreline still goalless. After the break, the first real chance fell for the visitors as Hume darted into the box and sent a low cross.
The ball was deflected in the path of Javi Lara by Rehenesh but the Spaniard missed the chance to bury it in the open net. Hume once again was seen in action as his cross was met by Bostwana midfielder Ofentse Nato. The header rattled the rival cross bar and the rebound from Lara was blocked by the NorthEast defenders.
Gavilan after some time found Hume with a beautiful pass but the Canadian’s shot was brilliantly saved by Rehenesh. However, against the run of play, NorthEast finally broke the deadlock as substitute Velez blasted home a volley from close range. Velez had set up Sanju Pradhan but his shot was blocked by ATK’s Arnab Mondal, and Velez obliged with a powerful strike on the reboud. The visitors tried hard coming back into the game, with Hume trying his level best but the NorthEast defence stood strong.