No Christmas Joy For Carles Cuadrat’s Men As Williams’ Second Half Goal Gives Hosts First Win Over Blues
Kolkata: Bengaluru FC were handed their first defeat on the road where a David Williams goal (47′) gave hosts ATK a 1-0 win on Christmas Day at the Salt Lake Stadium, in Kolkata. The defeat meant Carles Cuadrat’s Blues moved down to third on the table, squandering the chance to take pole position, now occupied by ATK.
Cuadrat, in his pre-match press conference, spoke about having a plan in place to deal with the threat that ATK possess in attack and on the counter, and the Spaniard chose to start the game with 3-5-2 for a shape. The switch in formation saw Ashique Kuruniyan start on the bench, with Harmanjot Khabra and Nishu Kumar operating as wing-backs. Raphael Augusto, who missed the game against NorthEast United with an injury, was back in a midfield that had Erik Paartalu and Dimas Delgado.
The hosts, meanwhile, made as many as three changes from the side that played out a 2-2 draw with Hyderabad FC last week. Antonio Habas handed starts to Soosai Raj, Prabir Das and Jayesh Rane.
In what was a tactically tight first half that ended goalless, chances on goal weren’t clear for either side. The Blues did enjoy a better share of possession and patiently built play up from the back, but a stubborn ATK defence was at hand to quell any casualty. At the other end, Bengaluru’s back three did equally well to deny David Williams and Roy Krishna any breathing space.
But the break broke the momentum and ATK the deadlock, when Williams pounced on a pass from Jayesh Rane, after Rahul Bheke’s inability to clear the ball after doing well to intercept a pass. Williams fired past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to make it 1-0 in the 47th minute, the goalkeeper’s fingertips doing little to stop the ball from hitting the back of the net.
The Blues had the chance to equalise on the hour mark when Khabra’s cross in the ATK box came off the head of a red shirt and fell kindly to Delgado. But the Spanish midfielder, under no pressure, fired agonisingly wide on the volley. Cuadrat soon made his first change, introducing Kuruniyan for Bheke, as Bengaluru switched shape, going with four at the back.
With the hosts continuing to keep things tight at the back, Bengaluru made a second attacking change in bringing on striker Semboi Haokip for Augusto. Udanta and Ashique attacked the flanks with intent with Semboi the focal point, but the Blues could do little against a resolute ATK defence that held fort to secure the points.
The Blues face FC Goa next, at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, on January 3 2020.