FULL-TIME: ATK 2-1 Jamshedpur FC
ATK: Manuel Lanzarote (4′, 33′).
Jamshedpur FC: Mario Arques (82′, Assist: Bikash Jairu).
Two-time champions ATK have their feet firmly in the play-off mix after picking up three valuable points against Jamshedpur at home.
The Kolkata side got a grip on the game early on after they took the lead in the fourth minute. The winter window signing Edu Garcia made a marauding run from midfield towards goal when he was hacked down by the Jamshedpur defender Dhanachandra Singh. Lanzarote stepped up to take the free-kick just outside the box and curled it past Subrata Pal low in the corner.
The goalkeeper did not seem to trust his wall and positioned himself centrally and had yards to make up as the ball went past him.
A couple of half-chances fell to both teams following the goal but nothing came off it.
In the 33rd minute, it was ATK who doubled their lead from a ‘rinse and repeat’ scenario. Another Edu Garcia run through midfield and he was again brought down by Dhanchandra Singh. The only difference was the free kick was at an ever better angle just outside the box for Lanzarote to work his magic again. And he did just that. Subrata got a hand to it, but only ended up parrying into his net.
After the resumption, Jamshedpur continued dominating possession in search of a goal. But lacking penetration up front with Sumeet Passi ineffectual and with Cidoncha still finding his way back after a long injury layoff, Jamshedpur failed to find their way around the ATK defence.
ATK sat deep and frustrated Jamshedpur and eventually another set-piece situation led to the Red Miners getting a goal back. A corner awarded to Jamshedpur was taken short and Bikash Jairu crossed the ball deep into the box. Mario Arques scored with an expertly taken header to make it 2-1 in the 82nd minute.
With the referee awarding five minutes of extra time, Jamshedpur poured forward, but the game ended 2-1 in favour of the hosts.
Looking through the xG lens tonight, both teams missed a forward, but Jamshedpur even more so. While Lanzarote scored from free kicks which are usually more difficult to convert (Note the low Top Shooter xG for Lanzarote) – it was that exact quality that Jamshedpur did not have tonight.
With Tim Cahill injured, Michael Soosairaj ill and Cidoncha just finding his way back in after a long injury lay-off, the Red Miners lacked bite in offence – Note Sumeet Passi and Faruk Choudhary are not among the Top Shooters/Creators xG tonight.
With ATK’s win, the race for the fourth play-off position is truly on with both Jamshedpur and ATK three points behind Northeast United in fourth place. Jamshedpur look the weakest link among the three and have picked up only four wins this season – only the bottom three have fewer wins than them.
ATK will next play a Pune City side on the upturn away on Sunday, Feb 10th, while Jamshedpur FC have a tough engagement at home against Mumbai City FC on Friday.