They had been playing for an hour and fifteen minutes under the lights of the empty Fatorda Stadium when Edu Garcia slammed in a beautiful free kick to the right of FC Goa goalkeeper, Naveen Kumar.
There was a shout from the bench, Garcia imitated the crying gesture as he wheeled away in celebration, while his teammates in black ran over and embraced him. ATK Mohun Bagan had delivered a sucker punch to FC Goa in the Indian Super League.
The Gaurs had huffed and puffed at the ATK Mohun Bagan goal for long stretches of the match and to go behind was a hammer blow.
Juan Ferrando named an unchanged XI from the win over Jamshedpur FC. This meant that Igor Angulo, the top scorer in the league, had to be content with a spot on the bench for a second game in a row.
ATK Mohun Bagan made three changes from their loss to Mumbai City: Prabir, SK Sahil, and McHugh replaced Manvir, Martins, and Javi Hernandez.
ATK Mohun Bagan start strong
The Kolkata outfit started on the front foot latching onto a poor clearance by Naveen Kumar, Spanish midfielder Edu Garcia took a shot at goal from distance. Only 20 seconds had passed. Ferrando’s side had to tighten up if they were to play from the back.
Sixty seconds later, Garcia’s long ranger flew over the bar. Three minutes in, ATK Mohun Bagan had three shots at goal.
The home side fell into a rhythm and had their first sight on goal in the 10th minute when Ortiz set up Noguera at the edge of the box. The left footer went wide of the far post.
Garcia pulled the strings in the ATK midfield and his ball to pick out Prabir Das behind Goa’s defence required Naveen to get down on time to save the volleyed effort.
Crossbar rattled – twice
The deadlock was nearly broken in the 27th minute. Garcia’s corner kick was met by Bose. The defender went in with a header that was straight off a manual. Rise high, head the ball down – only for the crossbar to prevent him from scoring
At the other end, FC Goa began to hit its stride with their build up play. Moving the ball from left to right before Noguera threaded a ball behind the ATK defence to find the run of Seriton Fernandes. The fullback’s cross was deflected off Jhingan and clipped the crossbar before being cleared away.
Goa dominate the second half
The goalpost continued to play spoilsport early in the second half. Some intricate play between Noguera and Romario released Seriton down the right flank. The fullback’s cross left Arindam stranded, only for the far post to stand in the way as the ball bounced back into play.
Goa continued to probe as Lenny shot wide from the right, Brandon took Arindam on from 35 yards, while Brandon hit the side netting.
At the hour mark, Gonzalez was dispossessed by Williams. The Spaniard hacked down Roy Krishna and was lucky to receive a yellow card.
Both sides brought in the changes, as Rane replaced Sahil, while Devendra Murgaonkar replaced Brandon.
In the 74th minute, Donachie challenged Roy Krishna for a high ball and was adjudged to have fouled the Fijian just outside the box.
Garcia, Ishan find the target
Garcia stepped up and promptly put the ball in the net past Naveen Kumar. The goalkeeper was caught flat-footed as his initial movement to his left gave him little time to react to the ball on his right.
1-0 to ATK Mohun Bagan.
More changes followed. Ishan Pandita and Princeton Rebello were thrown in place of Lenny and Romario.
The former justified his coach’s decision as he drilled home the equalizer in the 84th minute.
A corner kick found Donachie with time to head goalwards. Pritam kept out the attempt on the goal line but the ball fell kindly to Pandita as the home side deservedly equalized. 1-1.
Going in for the kill
ATK MB threw in Manvir and the substitute nearly put his team in front with a header only to see the crossbar play spoilsport once again.
At the other end FC Goa threw in the kitchen sink, Saviour Gama hit the side netting while Ortiz’s shot from the edge of the box went narrowly wide.
After the 0-1 loss to Mumbai City, the Kolkata outfit would be the happier of the two teams with the draw.
Mohun Bagan remain at second position with 21 points from 11 matches while Goa is at third spot with 19 points from 12.