Super Cup: ATK thrashes Chennai City to make last 16

Skipper-cum coach Robbie Keane was among ATK's four different goal-scorers against Chennai City in the Super Cup qualifier.

ATK's Zequinha was among the goal-scorers in the win over Chennai City in the Super Cup.   -  AIFF Media

Two-time Indian Super League champion ATK, came up with a commanding performance to beat I-League outfit Chennai City FC 4-1, in the fourth and final qualifying game of the Super Cup, at the Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha.

It now moves on to the main draw of the tournament beginning on March 31, and will face FC Goa on April 3.

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ATK dominated possession throughout the first half and pressed high consistently although it couldn’t find the back of the net for all its efforts. Portugese Zequinha tormented Chennai down the left. His focus being to deliver the ball to Irish man Robbie Keane.

In the 29th minute, Zequiniha put one in off a loopy curler from Mbatha from the right corner flag, but the ball went out for a goal kick. A malfunctioning floodlight held proceedings but the game sprung back to life as Hitesh Sharma drilled in a brilliant left-footer off a loose ball from an ATK corner into the Chennai City net, beating custodian Kabir all ends up. 1-0 to ATK in the 43 minute.

Just when it seemed ATK would take its lead into half-time Chennai struck when Edwin Sydney Vanspaul’s cross found Joachim, who went low to neatly place his header past Sonam Poirei into the ATK goal. The teams thereby stood even 1-1 at the break.

ATK began the second half on a more enterprising note as Robin Singh missed a one on one with Chennai goalkeeper Kabir when he hit it straight to him from close range.

In the 57th minute, Zequinha, who was easily the best player of the match on both sides, initiated a move from the left, finding captain and coach Keane inside the box. Keane ran in further into the box and cut back to find Mbatha for a crucial layoff to an onrushing Zequinha to finish the move he had started.

To its credit, Chennai did come back strong after conceding the lead for a second time in the match and dominated proceedings for the next 15-20 minutes largely due to the efforts of Soosairaj and Joachim. Joachim failed to curl in a right-footed free kick from just outside the box in the 70th minute and Sonam Porei saved another Joachim shot in the 81st minute.

Although Ashutosh Mehta had put the issue almost beyond Chennai’s reach, when in the 76th minute, off a Zequinha corner, Kabir muffed his clearance and the ball fell invitingly to Ashutosh’s feet from the resulting melee for an easy tap in.

Robbie Keane then settled the issue in the 84th minute, the Irishman controlled Zequiha’s ball, took a couple of strides forward and tapped it into the far right corner of Kabir’s goal post. An unassailable 4-1 lead showing ATK’s dominance.

With this match, the Round-of-16 stages has its four qualifiers confirmed. The final round will take place from March 31.

Fixtures (Round of 16)

March 31: Chennaiyin FC vs Aizawl FC

April 1: Bengaluru FC vs Gokulam Kerala

April 1: Mohun Bagan vs Churchill Brothers

April 2: Minerva Punjab vs Jamshedpur

April 3: FC Goa vs ATK

April 4: Pune City vs Shillong Lajong

April 5: East Bengal vs Mumbai City

April 6: Neroca vs Kerala Blasters