He had appeared rusty in the opening half. Roy Krishna was a clinical finisher and the joint top-scorer of the Indian Super League (ISL) with 15 goals last season but on Friday night, he looked a different man early as he wasted three good chances.
But the 33-year-old from Fiji had the last laugh, scoring the match-winner shortly after the hour-mark, as defending champion ATK Mohun Bagan (ATKMB) defeated Kerala Blasters 1-0 in the ISL opener at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim.
KBFC VS ATKMB | AS IT HAPPENED
FOLLOW | ISL 2020-21 FULL COVERAGE
Krishna shot over once and was denied by a fine slide by the Blasters' defender Costa Nhamoinesu in the first half. But he produced the one moment of magic that brushed away all the disappointment for the league's first goal.
Manvir Singh, on the left, appeared to be searching for the Fijian and when he spotted him just outside the box, he sent a cross. Blasters' Sergio Cidoncha's headed clearance was latched on to by Krishna and he raced into the box and sent the ball into the bottom corner with a cool finish giving goalkeeper Albino Gomes no chance. There was no doubt who the hero of the match was.
Seventh last season, the Blasters had better ball possession in the opening half but they could not create enough chances to convert this into goals. The Kochi team's star striker Gary Hooper failed to connect a header properly from close range in the 37 minute and shortly after the break, young Sahal Abdul Samad missed a golden chance. He was well placed as he met a Jessel Carneiro cross from the left but he messed up the finish. Meanwhile, ATKMB created chances but could not make the most of them early on.
Hit by the global pandemic, the teams had a short pre-season this time and it showed early in the second session as the game slowed down with the teams struggling to keep the ball. But ATKMB will have no complaints.
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