After much wait and anticipation, the Indian Super League finally kicked off, with Atletico de Kolkata taking on Mumbai City FC, in their opening fixture. Both, teams would be searching for a win, and would be looking to start the inaugural campaign, with a solid three points. Atletico de Kolkata fared in a 4-3-3 with Chowdhury, Franco, Josemi, Mondal, Saha, Borja, Nato, Jofre, Garcia, Lemessa and Sahni, all featuring. With Nicolas Anelka and Ljungberg out, Mumbai City lined up in a 4-4-2. The Peter Reid side, started with Subrata Paul, Mondal, Cmvos, Gaikwad, Letzieter, Stohanzl, Riberio, Nabi, Nadaya and Ralte.
The Inaugural Indian Super League match started, with some of the Indian Players playing out of position. Mumbai City made their intentions clear, launching a long ball in the first minute itself. After a rugged first five minutes, which saw tackles and cards flying out, Atletico de Kolkata finally settled into their rhythm and started to call shots. A barrage of Kolkata attacks followed, only to be kept out by the heroics of the ‘Indian Spiderman’, Subrata Paul. Mumbai City soon, started to contain themselves and a 18th minute fee kick, saw Raju Gaikwad nearly score the inaugural goal, only to be yellow carded following a hand ball incident. Atletico de Kolkata, dropped of in their half, making it impossible for Mumbai to play through the center of the pitch. The whistle happy referee, constantly short circuited momentum, making it difficult for each team to gain a higher upper hand. 26th minute saw the first goal of the Indian Super League, as Fikru, chipped the ball past the daunting Subarata Paul, after a defensive lapse. A 33rd minute penalty shout was cancelled by the referee, as Fikru, budged into Raju. Ralte, who was operating as a striker partner for Nadaya, dropped deep, to play as the creative outlet, which the Mumbai Franchisee lacked. Syed Nabi was replaced by Nadong Bhutia, following an injury scare in the 37th minute. Finishing often eluded the Ranbir Kapoor franchisee, as Raju Gaikwad delivered in a delightful cross around the 42nd minute marker, only to be scooped wide by Nadaya, their target man.A dirty first half, filled with flying tackles and lashing yellow cards, came to an end as Atletico de Kolkata led Mumbai City, by a Fikru Goal to nil.
The second half started with fluent attacks from both the sides. Mumbai City finally started to create and initiate attacks, after much delay. Didka, proved instrumental in providing passes and linking up play. An uneventful opening 20 minutes of the second half, featured both the sides locking horns and participate in end to end stuff. A 63rd minute defensive splitting pass by Borja, saw Fikru on goal again, only to be brought down, after a heavy touch, by Raju Gaikwad. Luis Garcia’s Atletico de Kolkata, yet again, began dominating Ranbir Kapoor’s Mumbai City, as a wave of Kolkata long balls followed relentlessly into the Mumbai Half. A cracker volley from Borja, in the 69th minute, following a Saha throw in, saw Kolkata take a deserved 2-0 lead against Mumbai. With a comfortable lead, Atletico de Kolkata committed men behind the ball, causing problems to the already struggling Mumbai Forwards. A Luis Garcia cross, followed by a Josemi header, was kept out brilliantly by Subarata Paul in the 78th minute. A deflected shot, kept out heroically from Chawdhary in the 82nd minute, kept Atletcico in hunt for the elusive Clean Sheet. The final five minutes saw the ball being distributed equally and kept in possession by the Luis Garcia side, with the sucker punch coming in the form of an Arnal Goal, making it 3-0, to the hosts, in injury time. In a dominating and capturing performance, Atletico de Kolkata defeated possible title contenders, Mumbai City FC.
A Mumbai Side which failed to make its mark in the inaugural match, perhaps lacked heavyweights such as Nicolas Anelka and Freddie Ljungberg. Atletico de Kolkata, meanwhile, justified their playing style of ‘Fatafati Football’ with a comfortable 3-0 win. With an away trip next to North East United, Atletico de Kolkata have successfully launched their campaign with a solid performance.