ATK claimed an unprecedented third Indian Super League (ISL) title triumph after defeating arch-rival Chennaiyin FC in a summit showdown that was played behind closed doors at Margao, Goa on Saturday. Javier Hernandez (10th and 90+3) and Edu Garcia (48th) scored for ATK, while Nerijus Valskis found the net for Chennaiyin FC in the 69th minute at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The final was held without spectators owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Catch highlights here:
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A brilliant Indian Super League season comes to an with an anti-climatic finish with the two most successful teams - ATK and Chennaiyin FC - playing the finale in front of an empty stadium in Fatorda, Goa thanks to the deadly coronavirus pandemic. And after 90- odd minutes, ATK emerged victorious with Javi Hernandez scoring a double. In the process, ATK coach Antonio Lopez also became the first coach to win the league twice.
Golden Boot - Nerijus Valskis (Chennaiyin FC)
Emerging Player - Sumit Rathi (ATK)
Hero Of The League - Hugo Boumous (FC Goa)
Best Goalkeeper - Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Bengaluru FC)
Full-Time: ATK 3-1 Chennaiyin FC
90+6' - And that's all. ATK create history, become the first team to win the ISL title three times.
90+4' - GOAL!!!!! And what a way to finish off. Title number three for ATK is confirmed. Javier Hernandez started the show, and he is finishing the task. A brilliant run to beat two Chennaiyin defenders after a sumptuous Pronay Halder release before beating onrushing Vishal Kaith with a cool finish.
90+1' - Good play from Firtulescu and Valskis inside the ATK box. But ATK goalie Arindam leaves his line and makes a brave save.
90' - ATK minutes away from lifting their third ISL trophy. Pranoy Halder wins a throw-in inside their own half, off a deflection. But the decision goes against them. From the following play, Arindam Bhattacharja collects a header from rival captain Lucian Goian. And takes time to get up. Good tactics. Four minuted added on.
88' - Eli Sabia brings down Edu Garcia inside the Chennaiyin half. Last line of defence, and booked. Referee lenient.
86' - Michael Soosairaj does it again. Brings down Dinliana. Free kick for Chennaiyin. Rafael Crivellaro sends a curler, but fails to find any of his team-mates.
84' - Another sub for ATK. Victor Mongil Adeva on, Armando Sosa Pena out.
83' - Inside the last ten minutes into the regulation time. And Chennaiyin continue their search for the second equaliser. Nerijus Valskis gets another chance from a Rafael Crivellaro delivery. But fails, again.
80' - What a chance for ATK. David Williams releases Edu Garcia with a through ball, but Vishal Kaith leaves the box and makes a crucial clearance.
78' - ATK box is a crowded place. Rafael Crivellaro goes one-on-one with goalie Arindam Bhattacharja. And the ATK custodian parries the ball for a corner. But nothing comes off it. Chennaiyin, for all their chances, are having a tough time beating Bhattacharja.
76' - Chennaiyin on the move again, and Jerry Lalrinzuala wastes the move with a wayward pass. SUB for Chennaiyin. Dragos Firtulescu in for retiring Andre Schembri.
73' - This is turning out to be an end-to-end affair. ATK get a very good chance to restore the two-goal lead. Michael Soosairaj gets a good run, then goes for the far post. But Eli Sabia makes a crucial block, then Javier Hernandez lets it fly. And it flies, over the bar.
70' - Nerijus Valskis gets another chance. This time with his header from close range from a Eli Sabia delivery, but Arindam Bhattacharja up to the task.
69' - GOAL!!!! What a strike from Nerijus Valskis. Jerry Lalrinzuala sends in a loopy ball from the right flank and a flying Valskis reaches to the ball, connecting and beating Arindam Bhattacharja. And he is now on par with Roy Krishna on 15 goals each.
67' - Sub for ATK. Pronay Halder in, Micheal Regin off. Meanwhile, John Johnson is having a busy night. He's everywhere.
65' - Chennaiyin, after braving a brilliant run from Prabir Das, win a corner from a counter-attack. Das goes pass Lucian Goian and goes for the glory, forcing Vishal Kaith to pull off a good save. On the opposite end, Rafael Crivellaro's delivery from the corner fails to find a Chennaiyin teammate.
62' - Some strange calls from the match officials, all in favour of ATK. Michael Soosairaj does the dirty work on the byline and escapes a booking for his foul on Eli Sabia.
59' - Dangerous play. ATK's Michael Regin deserves a red card, but the referee shows a yellow instead. High boot straight on the shoulder of Edwin Vanspaul.
57' - Anirudh Thapa releases a long ball for Rafael Crivellaro inside the box, but the later's attempt goes straight to Arindam Arindam. Chennaiyin continue to press hard.
55' - Almost 60% possession for Chennaiyin and also more attempts, but... Still searching for their first goal. John Johnson gets away after pulling shirt while going for a high ball meant for Andre Schembri.
53' - Prabis Das produces yet another run, and links up with David Williams. But Chennaiyin get their own attack up and running. Lallianzuala Chhangte foes for a long ranger with his left foot. Fails to test Arindam Bhattacharja.
51' - Armando Sosa Pena gets a yellow for his foul on Rafael Crivellaro.
48' - GOAL!!!! Lucky escape for ATK, with Mandi bringing down Rafael Crivellaro just outside the box. On the counter, a David Williams sets up Edu Garcia for the second. Cool finish to beat to the far post. 6th goal for Garcia and first against Chennaiyin.
46' - Second-half resumes. Cagey start.
Clinical ATK took the lead in the first after surviving a nervy start to the match. Woodwork denied Chennaiyin frontman Nerijus Valskis in the 44th second, then Javier Hernandez scored his first-ever ISL goal to give ATK the lead in the 10th minute. Valskis could have a hat-trick. ATK, then enjoyed a very good spell, forcing more than a couple of chances from Chennaiyin defenders. Then, Chennaiyin turned the heat, only to see Arindam Bhattacharja thwart their attempts. Chennai have had five shots to ATK's third. They have more possession too. And there were two injuries too. Germanpreet Singh for Chennaiyin and Roy Krishna, the leading scorer of the season, for ATK. Stay tuned for the second half.
First-Half: ATK 1-0 Chennaiyin FC
45+3' - Chennnaiyin continue to press hard for the equaliser, and have the last kick of the half.
45+2' - Another good looking move from Chennnaiyin on the right flank. But Sumit Rathi wins the battle for ATK, against Rafael Crivellaro.
45' - Sumit Rathi does an acrobatic clearance to cut short a Chennaiyin move, but Lallianzuala Chhangte wins the ball back and sends in a cross for Andre Schembri, whose attempt just misses the far post. Three minutes added on.
43' - Pritam Kotal, now captain of the Kolkata side after Roy Krishna's departure, draws a foul in a crucial position, just outside ATK box. Free kick for ATK. Nerijus Valskis, after losing the ball, shows his frustration with a late tackle.
42' - A brave run fromJerry Lalrinzuala, beating four ATK players on the right flank. But ends up losing the ball, then Chennaiyin win the ball back, only see goalscorer Javier Hernandez ending the possession with a nasty foul. Anirudh Thapa is on the floor. Free kick for Chennaiyin.
39' - Lallianzuala Chhangte, now operating in the centre, gets another free run inside the ATK half. Links up with Andre Schembri, but gets beaten for pace. Jerry Lalrinzuala gets to the clearance. And a player is down. It's Roy Krisha. He's walking off. Armando Sosa Pena is his replacement. Krishna is crying.
36' - A good spell of play for Chennaiyin. Another free-kick for Chennai, just outside the box, as Andre Schembri is brought down by lunging ATK defender John Johnson. Sloppy play from ATK, relying on back passes. A little while ago, Roy Krishna was struggling.
32' - Stunning header from Andre Schembri from a corner and another brilliant save from Arindam Bhattacharja. Chennaiyin win another corner. A packed ATK box, and Eli Sabia in the thick of the action. Rafael Crivellaro shows his skills but the CROWD is there.
29' - A good run from sub Edwin Vanspaul. He then sends a curling low cross for Nerijus Valskis. Another chance, and wasted as Arindam Bhattacharja makes a diving save to his right. Chennaiyin then win a free-kick thanks to a Prabir Das handball.
27' - Nerijus Valskis, another chance. This time to the near post and Arindam Bhattacharja, lucky. In the right place and right place. Then, Lallianzuala Chhangte wins a corner. Nothing from it.
25' - Chennaiyin, clearly out of means, are rolling the ball around. Trying the calm the nerves. But soon lose possession.
24' - Messy defending from Chennaiyin. At least four chances for ATK, rebound after rebound, and a couple of goal-line clearances.
22' - First change. Germanpreet Singh is down and out, makes way for Edwin Vanspaul.
20' - A rare sight. Lallianzuala Chhangte jumps and goes for a header. Diminutive Mizo manages to find the target but a meek attempt. Understandable. No issues for Arindam Bhattacharja.
19' - Prabir Das is having a brilliant run of play. Produces a beautiful cross, forcing Chennaiyin to concede a corner. On the counter, Lallianzuala Chhangte has his own blistering run. Wins a throw in the attacking third.
16' - Brilliant run from Prabir Das, but cool defending from Chennaiyin. Then, Edu Garcia commits. Free kick to Chennai inside their own half.
13' - Chennaiyin could have taken the lead inside the first minute, but now trail. And now, they are playing catch up. Rattled.
10' - GOAL! A probing run from ever-resourceful Lallianzuala Chhangte, but ATK defend well to win the ball back inside their own half. Then what. A brilliant move and even better strike from Javier Hernandez. Hits the ball into the ground and the bounce does the rest, beating a diving Vishal Kaith to the far corner. First goal for the Spaniard. Clinical finish. Good delivery from Roy Krishna. That's the 291st goal of the season.
8' - Chennaiyin captain Lucian Goian is having a tough time. First, he fails to check David Williams, then brings down an ATK player. Fortunately for him, there's no decision from the referee. Goal kick for Chennaiyin.
6' - Then, Germanpreet Singh makes a timely tackle on David Williams to thwart a counter-attack from AT. A free-kick for ATK, but hits the wall. From the following play, Michael Soosairaj beats Vishal Kaith with a curler, but misses the target, on the far post.
4' - Wow! Nerijus Valskis, fighting for the Golden Boot, hits the bar from a close range after a brilliant play. What a miss. Chennaiyin are having a very good spell.
1' - What a start from Chennaiyin. Goal-line clearance from Pritam Kotal. And the match is only 40 seconds old. Smart lob from Rafael Crivellaro. Then, Prabir Das slips in a dangerous area as Germanpreet Singh applies pressure.
7:30 PM IST: Kasimov Sherzod from Uzbekistan will conduct the match tonight. Both the clubs are in their traditional colours.
7:25 PM IST: Players and match officials are out for the one last time. National anthem and kick-off next.
7:19 PM IST: ATK were the better side during the league stage thanks to their consistency, but Chennaiyin have a magical second half of the campaign since the arrival of Owen Coyle. ATK finished second in the points table with 34 points (10 wins, four draws and four defeats), while Chennaiyin were fourth with 29 points (eight wins, five draws and five defeats). ATK scored 36 goals, including three in the semis, while Chennaiyin scored 38, including six in the semis.
7:02 PM IST: Roy Krishna of ATK and Nerijus Valskis of Chennaiyin are fighting for the Golden Boot. As things stand now Krishna and Bartholomew Ogbeche of Kerala Blasters lead the chart with 15 strikes each, with Valskis and Ferran Corominas of FC Goa are second with 14 goals each.
6:46 PM IST: Big day for Chennaiyin frontman, Andre Schembri. This will be 33-year-old Maltese's final professional game. He joined Chennaiyin on 27 August 2019, and has been a regular for the two-time champions.
6:40 PM IST: Team sheets are here. No change for Antonio Habas's ATK, which defeated defending champions Bengaluru FC in their semi-final second-leg thriller. Chennauiyin boss Owen Coyle made one change, bringing Germanpreet in for Edwin Vanspaul in the midfield.
ATK XI: Arindam Bhattacharja (GK, 29), Sumit Rathi (2), John Johnson (4), Pritam Kotal (7), Prabir Das (33), Regin Michael (25), Javier Hernandez (19), Michael Soosairaj (23), Edu Garcia (10), David Williams (9), Roy Krishna (C, 21).
Subs: Dheeraj Moiranghtam (GK, 1), Victor Mongil (18), Armando Sosa Pena (3), Pronay Halder (17), Balwant Singh (15), Jobby Justin (22), Jayesh Rane (16).
Chennaiyin XI: Vishal Kaith (GK, 31), Eli Sabia (13), Lucian Goian (C, 6), Jerry Lalrinzuala (18), Laldinliana Renthlei (26), Germanpreet Singh (28), Lallianzuala Chhangte (7), Anirudh Thapa (15), Rafael Crivellaro (50), Nerijus Valskis (9), Andre Schembri (27).
Subs: Karanjit Singh (GK, 1), Masih Saighani (5), Deepak Tangri (22), Dragos Firtulescu (10), Edwin Vanspaul (8), Thoi Khangebam (11), Rahim Ali (24).
6:23 PM IST: In between, spare some thoughts for FC Goa. The Gaurs were the most dominant team in this season’s league phase, scoring a record 46 goals, but failed to make the final after losing the Chennaiyin, despite a valiant fightback in the second leg of their semi-final. Their big prize is the right to represent India in the AFC Champions League group stage -- first-ever for an Indian club in Asia’s top-tier club competition. And interestingly, ATK via Mohun Bagan will also get to play in AFC Cup, the second tier, group stage. The spot was reserved for the I-League champions. But with Bagan, the new champions, merging with ATK, they cary that right.
6:10 PM IST: Here are some interesting facts, courtesy ISL
- In ISL history, the team which defeated FC Goa in the semis, has never lost in the final.
- This season, ATK FC have conceded only 4 goals in the last 15 minutes of matches (lowest in league) while Chennaiyin FC conceded 10 goals in the same period. (joint highest in league)
- Both the teams have scored 11 goals in the last 15 minutes of matches.
- If ATK win the final, Antonio Lopez Habas will be the first head coach to lead his team to two ISL trophies.
5:58 PM IST: What happened in the last five meetings
February 16, 2020 – Chennaiyin FC Won 3-1
October 30, 2019 – ATK Won 1-0
December 2, 2018 – ATK Won 3-2
October 26, 2018 – ATK Won 2-1
January 25, 2018 – Chennaiyin FC Won 2-1
5:30 PM IST: This could be the last Indian football match of the season. A little while ago, the AIFF has suspended all tournaments at all levels, including the flagship I-League, till March 31 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meaning, tomorrow's 'scheduled' Kolkata derby between crowned champions Mohun Bagan and East Bengal will be played on a later date, coronavirus permitting. Sad days.
In one of a kind final, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic which has wiped out of the most of the world's major sporting eventing on an unprecedented scale, the 2019-20 season finale will be played in front of empty stands.
An advisory from the Sports Ministry on Thursday asked all national federations to ensure any sporting event be conducted without spectators. Abiding by that, ISL organisers -- Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) -- were forced to hold the summit clash behind closed doors, a first for the league which started in 2014. FSDL said it will soon initiate the process of ticket refunds and an announcement will be made through ISL channels.
While that did leave football crazy fans in Goa high and dry, both teams said at the pre-match press conference on Friday that will be no dearth of motivation as they chase a record third ISL crown.
But, this is the first time that an ISL match is playing in an empty stadium. Earlier this year, NorthEast United FC and defending champions Bengaluru FC played behind closed doors in Guwahati in the wake of the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Assam.
Seeking a hat-trick of titles, ATK reached this season's final after beating Bengaluru FC 3-2 on aggregate in the semifinals over two legs. They were the winners in 2014 and 2106. Chennaiyin FC, who had won the title in 2015 and 2018, had beaten FC Goa 6-5 on aggregates to reach the summit clash.
ATK, coached by Spaniard Antonio Lopez Habas who guided them to their first title in the inaugural season, have been one of the two most consistent teams this season not dropping out of the top-four once. The two-time winners finished second in the points table.
For the Chennai-based outfit, they have seen Irish coach Owen Coyle turn the tables in quite remarkable fashion. They were rock-bottom till December before Coyle replaced John Gregory and in the 14 matches in charge, Chennaiyin went on to lose just three to gatecrash the playoffs by finishing fourth.
Potent strike force
Leading the charge for the two teams will be two potent strike-forces who have scored a combined 33 goals this season.
While ATK have seen their electric combination of Roy Krishna and David Williams do wonders, for their opponents, it has been the guile and persistence of Rafael Crivellaro and Nerijus Valskis. The battle between Krishna-Williams and Crivellaro-Valskis will most definitely have a telling impact on the game.
Krishna and Williams are no strangers to each other, having already struck up an understanding during their time at Wellington Phoenix in the A-League before making their move to Kolkata. Crivellaro and Valskis, on the other hand, have no prior connection but have hit it off after the initial stutter. Chennaiyin scored no goals in their first four matches before going on to score 38 in their next 16. Twenty-one of those have come from Valskis (14) and Crivellaro (7).
Krishna and Valskis are in the race for the ISL Golden Boot award. The former Wellington Phoenix striker, who has netted 15 times, one more than the Chennai frontman, has five assists to his name too. Krishna's partner, Williams may not be in contention for the individual award, but he remains a threat. He has scored seven goals and assisted four times despite missing a few games due to injury.
Chennaiyin FC's Lallianzuala Chhangte has been enjoying a glorious season, operating down their left flank and has contributed seven goals. In fact, he has the most goals from open play for an Indian player in this campaign. Chhangte's move to Chennaiyin from the erstwhile Delhi Dynamos (now Odisha FC) has paid handsome rewards with the 22-year-old enjoying one of his best season.
Operating in the same flank for ATK, is wing-back Prabir Das. An ever-present option for ATK, Das has re-invented himself this season and has tallied five assists. His deliveries into the box is dangerous and ATK forwards Roy Krishna and David Williams have benefitted from the 26-year-old's service. Krishna and Williams scored a goal each from those crosses in the second leg of their play-off against Bengaluru FC as ATK completed a terrific comeback.
They have met 14 times, with ATK winning six times. Four matches have ended in draws. This season, ATK beat Chennaiyin away only to lose at home.
This is the first time that these two clubs are meeting each other in the final. Interestingly, neither club has lost an ISL final -- a run that will end for one on Saturday. And the team which defeated FC Goa in the semis, have never lost in the final.
Antonio Habas, ATK: "We have to enjoy the final and try to win it. But we have to respect the opponent. There is only one final. We need one heart and the whole mind for the final."
Owen Coyle, Chennaiyin: "I have nothing but utmost respect for ATK, for the quality of players they have. We will stick to our style because we believe we can win games with it. We are still under pressure as we go into the final and we want to be because that's when we are at our best."
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