ISL: ATK pips Bengaluru in thriller to reach final

ATK forwards David Williams and Roy Krishna struck the goals to help it down Bengaluru FC and set a final date with Chennaiyin FC.

ATK players celebrate reaching the ISL final after beating Bengaluru FC in the semifinals.   -  RAJEEV BHATT

David Williams starred for ATK as he found the net twice in the second half to help the host down the defending champion Bengaluru FC 3-1 and booked its berth in the Indian Super League (ISL) final for the third time. The second leg of the semifinal at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday contained all the ingredients of a thrilling encounter as ATK made a spectacular comeback from being a goal down before pulling through 3-2 on aggregate.

With a crowd over 50,000 cheering on the home side, ATK’s attacking duo of Williams and Roy Krishna, who scored the team's first, fetched the rewards for the host. Bengaluru's Ashique Kuruniyan scored the only goal for the away side.

AS IT HAPPENED

Bengaluru produced the early threat with a nice counter-attack in the fifth minute. Ashique, one of the two changes that the visitor made in absence of the suspended Nishu Kumar and the injured Albert Serran, got the goal latching on to a diagonal pass from Nili Perdomo. The host disputed the goal as Nili, who was the other replacement in the Bengaluru line-up, seemed to have handled the ball while intercepting a pass from Williams before releasing Ashique.

Stunned by the early goal, ATK took its time to regroup and had only its first opportunity in the 23rd minute when Williams had the first look at the Bengaluru goal. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu made a fantastic save to deny the Australian but could not protect his cleansheet for long as the host got its act together at the half-hour mark. The ATK equaliser was the result of a nice exchange of passes that saw Prabir Das running clear on the right to essay an inch-perfect cross to Krishna, who placed it on to the roof of the net with a left-footed half volley.

Given the big task of scoring two more to ensure the required margin in the final 45 minutes, ATK kept pressing for the second immediately after the break. Suresh Singh Wangjam, the Bengaluru FC right-back, committed the costly error inside his own box by tripping Williams, who made no mistake with the resultant penalty to make it 2-1.

Another brilliant assist from Das, who played in a perfect cross into the centre in the 79th minute, had Williams nodding home the third. ATK will meet former champion Chennaiyin FC in the title clash in Goa on Saturday.

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