Goa hold Kolkata to a hard-fought draw

After a moment of brilliance from Arat Izumi gave Atletico de Kolkata a lead in the third minute of the match, Goa applied pressure and effected a late equaliser as the teams finished 1-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Margao.

Arata Izumi put Atletico de Kolkata ahead in the third minute of the match.   -  Sportzpics

A late strike from Keenan Almeida gave FC Goa a 1-1 draw against Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) in the Indian Super League (ISL) here on Wednesday.

After Arata Izumi put ATK ahead early with a magnificent strike, the visitors were forced to retreat after their forward Baljit Sahni was sent off in the 62nd minute.

FC Goa attacked in droves, and after plenty of close shaves, the ATK wall was finally breached. Local lad Almeida capitalised on a frenetic phase of play; he used a precise right-footed shot to pull FC Goa level. The 17,000-strong crowd at the Fatorda Stadium went wild, and the home side even came close to adding a winner. It was not to be, and the two teams shared a point each - for the third time in the five meetings they have had in the two seasons of this tournament.

The relentless FC Goa forays into the ATK box in the latter stages was facilitated by Sahni's red card. The 28-year-old Indian was initially given a yellow card for a rough challenge, but that was quickly overturned after Sahni followed up by head-butting FC Goa defender Gregory Arnolin. Arnolin, not one for subtlety, fell to the ground rather dramatically. The referee handed a second yellow to Sahni, turning the match on its head. The Goans realised that they were now firmly back in contention.

The late excitement overshadowed a moment of brilliance from Izumi, which came minutes after kick-off. ATK midfielder Javier Lara floated in a perfect cross from the right, as Izumi waited in the 'D'. The Japanese-born Indian struck a perfect volley after evading his marker, and the stadium fell silent.

The rest of the half - much like the entire 90 minutes - saw plenty of chances from both sides. Izumi could have had a second in the 36th minute, but his low shot was superbly saved by FC Goa custodian, Elinton Andrade. On the other side of the field, Romeo Fernandes, Reinaldo Da Cruz Oliviera and Leonardo Moura all went for glory from distance, but invariably sprayed their shots wide.

After the restart, both coaches continued to push their players forward. It was edge of the seat stuff, and a draw was just reward for two equally ambitious teams.

The result:

Atletico de Kolkata 1 (Arata Izumi 3') drew with FC Goa 1 (Keenan Almeida 81').

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