ISL: Halder, Soosairaj strikes lift ATK into pole position

Pronay Halder and Michael Soosairaj struck in the first half to give ATK the win over Mumbai City, which took the away side to the top of the ISL table.

ATK celebrates Pronay Halder's opening goal against Mumbai City.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

ATK FC ended Mumbai City FC’s six-match unbeaten streak with a 2-0 victory at the Mumbai Football Arena, leaving the fans roaring in delight. Pronay Halder's positioning resulted in the opening goal, before Michael Soosairaj’s cool head and vision created the second goal out of nowhere to give ATK maximum points.

Antonio Habas' squad looks like a team on a mission after gaining the number one spot in the Indian Super League (ISL) after 11 games. FC Goa has the same number of points, but slipped into second place on goal difference.

AS IT HAPPENED

Two lightning strikes by Halder and his replacement Soosairaj in the first half changed the complexion of the match at the Arena. ATK forwards Javier Hernandez, Roy Krishna and David Williams linked up to leave rivals chasing shadows till the end.

MCFC put the ball in twice, but both times the offside flag was up and the home team trooped off at the final whistle, shaken up by the waves of attacks from the away side. One such lightning move saw Williams race to the goalline, and looked up to spot Halder arriving unmarked at the right post, ready and willing to sweep the ball into the net in the 29th minute.

Soosairaj’s strike for the second was even better. Roy Krishna leapt up for a floater in the goalmouth, the ball was picked up by the substitute, who sized up the situation with a glance up to pick his spot before scooping it into the far corner, beyond Amrinder Singh's reach. Krishna could have added a third, but his first-time effort from close rolled wide.

Earlier in the evening, the visitor launched raids at rapid pace, but did not trouble Amrinder early on. A looping free-kick by Hernandez high into the top left corner forced a save from the 'keeper.

Jayesh Rane’s tricky runs earned him space and he put Krishna in the clear, the latter tried a left-footed shot to the other corner. The striker’s reaction and execution was top-class, however, the ball rolled wide off target.

Raynier Fernandes, impressive for MCFC through the season, set up the best chance for the home side. He glided the ball into space on the left to find Diego Carlos, who in turn picked out Amine Chermiti in the box. The Tunisian striker raced clear towards goal and played a pass for Modou Sougou running in to connect. Sougou, under pressure from a defender, hit his shot wide.

Late in the second half, the latter was denied by the crossbar, forcing an expression of disgust on a night of misery for the host. MCFC remains in fourth place in the 10-team league, after four defeats in 11 games.

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