Wayward ATK held goalless by Pune City

A win could have given ATK a comfortable position ahead of the currently second placed Delhi Dynamos but the draw, its eighth in 14 matches, kept the host in the third spot with 20 points.

Keegan of Atletico de Kolkata clears the ball acrobatically.   -  Special Arrangement

Atletico de Kolkata ended its league campaign on a barren note when it was held to a goalless draw by visitor FC Pune City, in an Indian Super League match here at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium on Friday.

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A win could have given ATK a comfortable position ahead of the currently second placed Delhi Dynamos but the draw, its eighth in 14 matches, kept the host in the third spot with 20 points. Delhi, which also has 20 points but has played a match less, remained in the second position. Pune City, which had crashed out of contention much earlier, finished sixth with 16 points from 14 matches.

Pune City goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya had to recall the best of his skills inmultiple occasions to thwart the host from earning a goal. Facing a half-hearted opponent in FC Pune City, the ATK attack started creating openings early, first one of which came in the eighth minute. Javi Lara, the Spanish midfielder issued a curling free-kick, which Bhattacharya fisted over. Four minutes later Oftense Nato chugged up from his defensive post to try out a rasping grounder which missed the target narrowly.

The host made eight changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Kerala Blasters in the previous outing, with Lara, Tiri and Abinash Ruidas retaining their places. By this the ATK coach, Jose Molina, was definitely looking at giving rest to his regulars ahead of the play-offs but the revamped side, trying a host players from the bench, did not disappoint much with the performance. Lara made his second attempt with another curling shot in the 17th minute but could not beat the vigil of Bhattacharya in the Pune City goal.

Juan Belencoso, the Spanish striker whom Molina has mostly used as a substitute, topped list of missing sitters. The first one came in the 20th minute when he headed the ball on the side netting when Ruidas reached the latter right on the goalmouth with a fine cross. The Spaniard was again wayward just before the interval when he could not tap home an assist from Ruidas again. The worst from Belenso came in the 78th minute when the Spaniard did the more difficult task of placing the ball wide off an open goal. The opportunity came when he received a rebound after Bhattacharya had blocked the first attempt from ATK’s substitute Scottish midfielder Stephen Pearson.

Pune had couple chances from its Senegalese attacker Momar Ndoye, whose first effort landed on the side netting in the 33rd minute. While the second, happening the late in the second half, was saved by the ATK custodian Daniel Castro.

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