Kolkata: A last-gasp goal by super sub Balwant Singh helped two-time champions ATK earn a dramatic 1-0 win over NorthEast United FC and reclaim the top spot in the Indian Super League 2019-20 on Monday.
The contest seemed to be heading towards a goalless draw but Singh, who was brought in place of Edu Garcia after the regulation 90 minutes, stole the victory with a free header from a Javier Hernandez’s curling corner in the 90+5th minute.
ATK now have 27 points from 14 matches.
The loss extended the winless run for the Highlanders to eight matches as they remained ninth in the 10-team standings with 11 points from 12 outings.
Earlier, a one-minute silence was observed as a tribute to 41-year-old NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash under foggy conditions in Calabasas, California.
After an even and goalless stalemate, the home side started the second-half slowly.
NorthEast United FC had more of the ball possession at the beginning of the second half but was not able to take advantage.
ATK too grew into confidence in the second half and started creating chances of their own but just like the tourists, the hosts too could not find the back of the net.
In the 58th minute, NEUFC’s Croatian centre back Mislav Komorski dished out a tackle to keep a goalless scoreline.
It was Michael Soosairaj who was just inches away from giving the lead to the home side after Edu Garcia set it up perfectly on the left.
Soosairaj timed his run to perfection and Subhasish Roy had come out of his line but Komorski had the final say, as he charged ahead to clear it off the goalline.
Pritam Kotal missed a real chance to give his side the lead in the 68th minute from a Javier Hernandez freekick.
Jose Leudo tried to clear it away from danger with a header but it went to Agustin Iniguez who headed it to Kotal at the far post.
But Kotal could not keep a cool head and blasted the shot wide and over the goal.
The home side had their best chance in the 39th minute when their Fijian captain Roy Krishna looked all set to end his goal drought.
The Fijian found himself one-on-one with Subhasish Roy but the NEUFC goalkeeper saved his shot with his feet.
NorthEast United FC on the other hand looked good in parts but barring from a header from Andrew Keogh.
ATK next face Jamshedpur in an away clash on February 2.
-( NAV, Inputs: Agencies)