The 7th match of the inaugural Indian Super League between league leaders Atletico de Kolkata and Delhi Dynamos ended in a stalemate with both teams sharing the spoils with a point each. A point the Delhi side won’t mind against the League leaders.
The Kolkata outfit began the match in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Czech Jakub Podany replacing the red carded Borja Fernandez. The Dynamos made 3 changes since their draw with FC Pune City. The Delhi side fared with a 4-3-3 formation with Alessandro Del Piero, Bruno Arias, Pavel Elias and Souvik Chakraborty coming into the line up. The match began with both sides looking even. The attack began early when Atletico capitalized on the counter attack with Captain Luis Garcia placing a beautiful ball for Fikru but the flag went up for offside. The match saw its first corner in the 5th minute when Wim Raymaekers made an all important challenge on the left flank, but the corner from Podany was easily cleared away.
An important and controversial decision came up on the 6th minute when Alessandro Del Piero was tripped inside the box by Josemi as he cut inside to go past Jofre, but the referee adjudged it to be a dive from the Dynamos Captain and booked him for it. Atletico kept on attacking and threatened Van Hout’s goal when a loopy cross from Jofre found Fikru but Raymaekers was there to clear it away. The half progressed with Atletico doing most of the attacking with Fikru in the heart of it with Baljit Singh Sahni for support, but the Ethiopian striker wasn’t able to capitalize on the opportunities shooting wide and forcing saves from the Delhi keeper.
The best chance for the Dynamos came in the 32nd minute when a beautiful Alessandro Del Piero pass found Mama, the former East Bengal player belted in a venomous shot which hit the crossbar. The first half saw both sides getting good goal mouth opportunities but unable to make good use of them. The Kolkata side was pretty good in defence as well as in attack with Marquee signing Luis Garcia pulling the strings from his attacking role. The ended all square.
The second half began with a surprise change for everyone as Kolkata’s midfield maestro and captain Luis Garcia was replaced by Rakesh Masih because of a hamstring injury. The half began excitingly with Atletico going into the attack and it was no more than 3 minutes since the half began that Atletico opened their account with a beautifully slotted penalty by Jofre, which they won, when Fikru Lemessa was brought down with a shirt pull by Wim Raymaekers inside the box, earning the Belgian a booking. But it was all Delhi since then, Mulder had beautiful shot from outside the box which caught a deflection and went over. Atletico went on a surprise break when goals scorer Jofre Mateu surprised Van Hout with a long ranger but the Dutch keeper put it away only to fall for Baljit whose poke towards the goal went wide.
The Dynamos started to increase the pressure. Del Piero won a freekick when he was fouled by Fikru, he put in a good curling freekick into the box but the ball was headed wide by Pavel Elias. Delhi were showing attacking intent from the beginning of the second half and they upped their cause when they introduced Danish striker Mads Junker in place of Wim Raymaekers and it wasn’t long before the Delhi outfit equalised and so they did with a stunner from Pavel Elias. It was a screamer by the Czech, a dream of a goal. Del Piero put in a corner which was headed in Elias’ way, who took a touch and smacked it with the outside of his boot beyond the diving Subhashis Roy Chowdhury.
The lack of opportunities for Kolkata made them play aggressively, Masih picked up a yellow with a crunch tackle on Arias in the 82nd minute. Delhi didn’t stay far behind either and a scuffle broke out on the right hand side of the pitch when Alessandro Del Piero made a stupid challenge on Denzil Franco, the Italian Legend was pushed around and heated words were exchanged between the players until the ref cleared them away. The aggressive nature of the match finally yielded a Red card when second half substitute Rakesh Masih was handed a second yellow by the referee because of a stupid challenge on Del Piero, a second red in two matches for the Kolkata outfit. With a few minutes left the Italian Legend was brought off, as he made way for Dos Santos. The home side also made a change as Sanju Pradhan replaced Baljit. Delhi had the final chance at goal, but Dos Santos blasted it wayward. The highly competitive match was brought alive by the wonder strike by Pavel Elias as he equalised for the Dynamos, finishing the home side’s unbeaten run.
Written by Rohit Roy