ISL: Depleted Atletico hold visiting Goa goalless

ISL: Depleted Atletico hold visiting Goa goalless

A depleted Atletico de Kolkata held FC Goa goalless in the first leg of their semi-final encounter of the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Salt Lake stadium here Sunday.

Plagued by injuries, Atletico coach Antonio lopez Habas was forced to fall back on his bench strength with his war horse Arnab Mondal and talismanic striker Fikru Teferra sitting out.

Rakesh Masih and Sanju Pradhan featured in the starting line-up as Habas opted for a 3-5-2 formation with Mohammad Rafi and Luis Garcia upfront.

With over 50,000 spectators cheering every move, the home side started with extra zip and pace. Atletico's marquee player Garcia strung around passes with Pradhan and Rafi, though poor delivery and lack of precision inside the box saw the efforts go abegging.

A frustrated Garcia and Pradhan tried long rangers. The Spaniard's shot fizzed wide off the post, and Pradhan's 44th minute attempt sailed over.

Goa looked more thrustful around the rival box with Romeo Fernandez finding himself at the end of two chances. While he sidenetted one, the other prompted a brilliant save from Atletico custodian Armenian Edel Bete.

The Goans were, however, jolted in the 17th minute as defender Narayan Das picked up an injury after a clash of boots between him and Garcia. He was replaced by Peter Carvalho.

After the breather, the home side sprung into action with a 53rd minute cross from Czech Jakub Podany going past the post as Ofentse Nato failed to head home.

The reply from Goa was a strong one. Brazilian Andre Santos picked Miroslav Slepicka inside the 20 yards area, to feed an inch perfect ball, but the Czech's feeble attempt was collected by Bete.

Bete once again came to Atletico's rescue when he blocked a Romeo Fernandez effort at the 69th minute.

The last quarter was a scrappy one, as both sides tried to gain possession in the middle.

Habas made a double change in the dying minutes bringing in striker Mohammad Rafique in place of Pradhan, and Spaniard Arnal Llibert for Garcia, but the duo failed to break the deadlock.

The next leg of the semis will be played in Goa Dec 17.

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