Hyderabad FC put one foot in what would be their first-ever final after scripting a come-from-behind 3-1 win over ATK Mohun Bagan in the first-leg of the 2021-22 Hero Indian Super League second semi final here at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on Saturday.
Roy Krishna helped ATKMB take the lead but the former finalists’ joy was short-lived as Bartholomew Ogbeche (45th) equalised on the cusp of halftime, only for Yasir Mohammad (58th) and Javier Siviero (64th) to gloss over it.
The two teams will go up against each other again on Wednesday (March 16) for the second leg with ATKMB needing to find the back of the net at least twice to stand a chance of advancing to their second successive summit clash.
ATKMB looked to have got the better of Hyderabad in the opening exchanges, Juan Ferrando doing well to make his team defend well and close the gaps for the yellow shirts to exploit down the flanks and feed Ogbeche. Hyderabad did miss Asish Rai and his absence was felt most when they fell behind early on in the game. Liston Colaco was once again to the fore, causing more than a few problems for Nim Dorjee Tamang who was eventually sold to the guile of the former Hyderabad winger as he made him turn inside out to cross for Krishna who got in front of his marker and stabbed home.
Akash Mishra was at fault for not marking Krishna properly but Nim Dorjee never quite had the measure of Colaco at the first place, the fleet-footed winger bursting forward after receiving the ball and outwitting Nim Dorjee to whip in a delightful cross.
Hyderabad saw more of the ball but it was not bearing fruit as ATKMB dropped deep when needed to starve the likes of Javier Siviero and Ogbeche service from the middle of the park or the full backs. It was after the cooling break that Ogbeche, not getting enough balls, took it upon himself and dribbled past a few green and maroons shirts displaying amazing skills but in the end failed to make the most out of it.
Ogbeche’s industry, though, did not go in vain as he found the back of the net just before the halftime whistle. It was a record-shattering goal, the Nigerian equalling the record for the most goals in a single season after Juanan dinked the ball for him to nod home from close. Yasir Mohammad’s corner was not cleared by ATKMB defenders and the ball fell to Juanan who saw Ogbeche at the right place at the right time. Sandesh Jhingan shook his head, knowing he could have done better when Ogbeche beat him for the goal as both teams headed back into the tunnel locked at 1-1.
The second half belonged to Hyderabad as they pumped in two goals in the space of six minutes to script a comeback after an underwhelming first 45 minutes. It was a double blow for ATKMB as not only Yasir Mohammad scored a goal after Jhingan and Tiri collided in an attempt to clear the ball near the box with Yasir smashing home from outside the box, but Tiri had to be stretchered off. Minutes later, Siviero headed in from a corner to make it 3-1.
Ogbeche was everywhere in the second period for Manolo Marquez’s side, his spadework helping Yasir Mohammad get the goal. At the other end, Joni Kauko fired a volley wide from a Hugo Boumous cut-in from the byline.
In the dying minutes, ATKMB desperately looked for a goal to trim the margin with substitute Kiyan Nassiri coming closest as he found the post from close range.