ATK edge Chennaiyin for first home win

ATK edge Chennaiyin for first home win

KEEN TUSSLE: ATK player Kalu Uche (9) vies for the ball with Jerry Lalrinzuala (18) of Chennaiyin FC. PTI

Former champions ATK defeated title-holders Chennayin FC 2-1 in a keenly-contested Indian Super League match to register their first home win of the season here on Friday.

Nigerian striker Kalu Uche (3rd minute) and John Johnson (13th) put Steve Coppell’s side 2-0 up before Carlos Salom (17th) pulled one back for the defending champions.

ATK, however, managed to maintain their slender lead to hand Chennaiyin their fourth defeat of the season and climbed to the fourth spot on the table.

Chennaiyin got off to the worst possible start as a defensive mix-up saw them concede as early as in the third minute.

Chennaiyin goalkeeper Karanjit Singh’s goal-kick was headed back by Gerson Vieira. It fell to Uche who found himself clear of both the centre-backs and slotted a calm finish past the custodian.

ATK assumed control of the match thereafter as Manuel Lanzarote started to show his quality on the ball. He threaded a delicious ball for Uche in the 11th minute but the Nigerian’s shot straight at the goalkeeper.

Two minutes later, Johnson met his wonderful free-kick into the box and headed into the far corner to double ATK’s lead.

The setback forced the reigning champions into action and they pulled a goal back within five minutes through Salom.

Francisco Fernandes’ accurate cross from the right wing was glanced into the net expertly by the Palestinian striker as coach John Gregory heaved a sigh of relief.

ATK looked a bit more compact at the start of the second half and Chennaiyin had to wait until the 56th minute to fashion a proper opportunity when Salom managed to dart into the box, only to see his rasping shot from close-range go well wide of Arindam Bhattacharya’s goal.