ISL: Chennaiyin, ATK play out 1-1 draw

The result brings ATK into the top four, level on 15 points with Kerala Blasters but ahead on goal difference. Chennaiyin F.C. meanwhile remains in sixth place with 14 points. Both teams have three matches left to play.

Davide Succi of Chennaiyin FC scores against Atletico de Kolkata in an Indian Super League match in Chennai.   -  R. Ragu

Chennayin F.C. and Atletico de Kolkata played out an entertaining 1-1 draw here at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Chennai.

The result brings ATK into the top four, level on 15 points with Kerala Blasters but ahead on goal difference. Chennaiyin F.C. meanwhile remains in sixth place with 14 points. Both teams have three matches left to play.

The defending champion started with Jeje Lalpekhlua and Davide Succi in attack and four in midfield behind them but without any genuine wide players. Eli Sabia continued in defence at the expense of marquee player John Arne Riise.

Missing the services of the injured Sameehg Doutie, ATK manager Jose Molina opted to start without top scorer Iain Hume.

The visitors lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with Juan Carlos Belencoso partnering Helder Postiga up top and Javi Lara playing on the right side of midfield.

In a frantic opening 10 minutes, both teams were on the front foot trying to get the early advantage. Javi Lara's corner was not properly dealt with by the Chennaiyin defence and Ralte's ball in was met by Henrique Sereno whose header bounced off the post.

The home side responded with two long range efforts from Jeje and Zakeer Mundampara but neither troubled goalkeeper Debjit Majumder.

Dutch midfielder Hans Mulder then hammered one from the edge of the box after a lay-off by Jeje but his shot was tipped over by Debjit. India international Jeje was then substituted in the 20th minute after picking up an injury and replaced by Daniel Lalhlimpuia.

The game settled down halfway through the first half and neither side created any chance of note until five minutes before half time.

Javi Lara made a run on the right flank and then reversed the ball for the overlapping Pritam Kotal. Kotal's cross was met by Helder Postiga, who headed it in to give ATK the lead.

Lara then tried to catch Chennaiyin goalkeeper Karanjit Singh off guard from a dead ball situation but the keeper was alert and kept the score intact going into half-time.

Chasing the game, Chennaiyin F.C. started the second half brightly with Succi almost equalising after being put through by Zakeer. Just after the hour mark, Zakeer whipped in a terrific free-kick but Bernard Mendy put his header wide when it seemed harder to miss.

Looking to preserve the lead, Molina took off Postiga and brought on midfielder Ofense Nato. Roared on by a boisterous crowd, Chennaiyin F.C. coach Marco Materazzi sent on striker Dudu for Mulder as the home side pushed for an equaliser.

Davide Succi was coming closer and closer, this time finding the side netting after a cut-back from Augusto. And the Italian finally made his mark in the 77th minute, heading in Sabia's cross.

Succi had a chance to win it after a loose ball fell to him right on the edge of the box but he blazed it over the bar.