Northeast United FC struck late to defeat former champions ATK by a solitary goal in an Indian Super League football fixture at the Saltlake Stadium on Thursday.
The home side, have got off their worst possible starts to the season with a 0-2 loss to Kerala Blasters in their opening fixture, and in their latest match they were reduced to 10-men and handed their second successive defeat on home soil.
The visitors found the winner through Rowllin Borges from an 89th-minute corner by Federico Gallego. In what will be a win to savor for a long time, this was the Highlanders' first win against the Kolkata franchise in the last five matches played between the sides.
The win also took the Eelco Schattorie-coached side to the top of the table with four points from two matches, after drawing their opening game against FC Goa. Whereas,the problems seem to pile on for the Steve Copple coached side with his team failing to score and get points in their last two games.
Struggles with a new-look ATK were still persistent from the first match as the team lacked cohesion on the pitch. Even their over dependence on attacking midfielder Manuel Lanzarote seems a matter of concern for the two-time champions.
It was the visitors that started the brighter of the two sides with a sweeping move down the left resulting in Federico Gallego finding some space for a shot but Gerson Vieira was on hand to close down the danger.
The hosts' first real attacking threat came after some good work by Balwant Singh down the left flank. The forward set the ball up for Lanzarote but the Spaniard's snapshot was way off the target.
After that it was quite a cagey affair between the two sides, with both teams failing to impose themselves. But, the game sprung to life in last 10 minutes of the first half after Sena Ralte was given his marching orders for a lunging tackle on Nikhil Kadam.
Playing with the numerical advantage, the Guwahati franchise nearly struck in the dying minutes of the first half with Bartholomew Ogbeche and Gallego combining well to release Tlang down the left. The winger's low cross across the face of goal found Ogbeche's run but defender John Johnson got a foot to deny the Nigerian.
Despite being a man-down, ATK started the second half on the front foot after they were presented with the best chance of the game in the 52nd minute against the run of play when Noussair floated in his free-kick from the left side but Everton Santos flicked it on towards the far post with his head. Captain Manuel Lanzarote got a foot on the ball but TP Rehenesh did well to thwart the danger.
Just as the half wore on, NorthEast tried making use of their man-advantage to search for that all important goal. They were rewarded for their patient efforts in the dying minutes of the game after Rowllin Borges rose highest to connect perfectly to Gallego’s corner ball, nestling it into the far corner.
The final whistle blew shortly after and the Highlanders were rewarded for their valiant efforts throughout the night, deservedly taking home all three points.