Atletico de Kolkata became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals in all three additions of the Hero Indian Super League after they drew with Kerala Blasters on Tuesday evening at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium.
There was a sombre mood coming from the 12,000 spectators, after a minutes silence was held as a mark of respect in memory of the Colombian air tragedy that wiped out the Chapecoense football team.
Though a win would have obviously been preferred, ATK knew it would only take one point to qualify. And after what was their seventh draw this season, some serious questions will be raised about their title credentials.
The game got off to fast pace with two goals in the first 18 minutes, CK Vineeth scoring for ATK in the 8th minute before Stephen Pearson’s equaliser 10 minutes later, but neither side could make further chances count and score remained the same for the remainder of the game.
The draw meant that NorthEast United needed to get a point against Delhi Dynamos in their game on Wednesday at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in order to make a maiden semi final appearance, which they achieved with a 2-1 victory.
The Dynamos were already assured of a place going into the game which led to their complacency on the pitch and their low intensity style of play led them to defeat.
NorthEast put up a spirited performance with goals from Seityasen Singh on the hour mark, followed by another in the 71st minute from Romaric.
Brazilian Marcelinho pulled one back for the Dynamos in the final minute of added time, blasting a shot from a tight angle, his ninth goal of the season.
Atletico de Kolkata now face Pune City on Friday at the Rabindrar Sarobar Stadium, while Kerala Blasters will play NorthEast United on Sunday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi.
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