Kochi: Atletico de Kolkata were robbed a point due to poor refereeing as regular captain Luis Garcia’s injury time equaliser was disallowed by assistant referee as hosts Kerala Blasters recorded a 2-1 win in a 10th round encounter of the Indian Super League here on Friday.
Despite the defeat, ATK stay put on second position with 16 points while Blasters also keep their third position intact with 15 points from 10 games. The incident happened in the 92nd minute. Down 1-2, ATK’s Jofre kept a cross-field ball from the left flank which Ethiopian striker Fikru Tefera headed for an unmarked Garcia and the former Liverpool player smashed it home.
But to his horror he saw the assistant referee disallowing the goal where as TV replays showed that ball had crossed the goalline by atleast a couple of feet. It was a match that Blasters dominated in the first half as they scored through their Scottish striker Iain Hume in the 4th minute and left-winger Pedro Gusmao in the 42nd minute.
For ATK, Fikru pulled one back in the 55th minute but it was more due to a faulty clearance on the part of opposition captain Cedric Hengbart. The match started with Fikru wasting a golden opportunity as early as 2nd minute when he had all the time in the world to beat Blasters custodian David James but his side volley didn’t have enough punch to beat a diving former England World Cupper.
Within two minutes, it was Hume, the former striker of English Championship (Division I) team Fleetwood Town, who hit back through counter attack. It was Pedro who made Baljit Sahni chase shadows essaying a lovely chip from wide left.
The defence formation of ATK was all jumbled up with custodian Subhasish Roy Chowdhury indecisive about coming out of his charge. The ball was slotted home by Hume and Stephen Pearson standing on goalline cleverly jumped to let the ball enter the net as a touch from him would have ruled it as off-side.
Pedro scored the second goal for his team when Sandesh Jhingan’s inswinging left-footed cross from the right flank saw Milagres Gonsalves failing to head the ball but both Sahni and Arnab Mondal were out of position as the Brazilian scored his first goal in the cash-rich league.
Having been outsmarted in the first half, ATK’s attack did have some sting after the change of ends once Garcia came in place of Arnal Lilbert. His assists and clever positioning did put Blasters in a bit of trouble but the held on well in front of a capacity crowd and the benevolence from the match officials ensured that ended up with full points from the encounter.