Postiga dazzles in Kolkata win
Football Indian Super League : Portuguese ace nets two goals before suffering injury as champions win 3-2
Signed up as the marquee player for the second edition, Helder Postiga got his ISL career off to a flying start by netting two goals in the 13th and the 70th minutes, before being stretchered out due to a hamstring injury. Valmiro Lopez scored the third for the visitors in the 76th minute, while Jeje Lalpekhlua (31st minute) and Elano (89th minute) scored one goal apiece for the Chennai side.
In a game marked by some end-to-end action, the hosts were the first to have a say at the goal in the 10th minute, with Fikru Teferra coming into the picture. He might have switched sides from Kolkata for the second season, but that didn’t stop Fikru from having his former team-mates Arnab Mondal and Ofentse Nato in a spot of bother throughout the game. The Ethiopian missed that first attempt though, after rounding off Arnab and trying to curl one past Amrinder Singh in the goal.
Chennai missed a chance there but Kolkata were in no mood to let go for their opportunity when it presented itself soon after.
Deployed as the lone striker ahead of a three-man attacking set-up, Postiga was at the right place in the right time to score his first goal of the league. The Portuguese international, however, had the opposition shot-stopper Edel Bete to thank as the Armenian let slip a regulation collection from a Baljit Sahni cross. Postiga pounced on the ricochet to tap in the opener.
Bombarding Kolkata’s goal with their well-orchestrated attacking waves, the Abhishek Bachchan co-owned side got back on level terms in some style, Jeje slotting the ball into an empty net after Fikru wrong-footed the defender and the goalkeeper Amrinder Singh with a clever header to set up the Indian international.
If the first half was about two quality teams battling it out for superiority, the second was all about Kolkata trying to establish a benchmark as the hosts were found wanting in all departments of the game.
Postiga was the first one to punish the Chennai side, with the former Porto striker sliding one between keeper Edel’s legs to restore Kolkata’s lead. Though the Portuguese proved his worth with the sublime finish, his heroics were cut short as he was taken off on a stretcher, to be replaced by Lopez who netted his side’s third. The former Osasuna player pounced on an inviting cross from Iain Hume to bury the ball into the net with a powerful header.
Kolkata could have extended their lead from the penalty spot after the referee spotted Chennai’s Bernard Mendy handling the ball inside the box, but the Chennai shotstopper was up to mark as he dived to the right direction to parry the ball away to safety. Meanwhile at the other end, Chennai made the most of their spot kick, awarded by referee Conger Matthew after Mondal handled the ball.
Elano deposited the ball into the back of the net to reduce the deficit. But Kolkata were the better outfit on the day and they walked away with three points, even though Postiga’s injury remained a concern.