Atletico were guilty of missing many chances as they settled for a goalless draw against FC Pune City in their final group encounter at Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, Kolkata, on Friday. Atletico will have to wait for tomorrow's match result against Delhi and Mumbai to know their semifinal opponents.
Atletico de Kolkata were the dominant side from start to finish but the hosts could not translate their superiority into goals against the visitors, now coached by former coach Antonio Habas. The draw meant Atletico de Kolkata are placed third on table with 20 points and will play their crucial second-leg semi-final battle away. FC Pune City, on the other hand, were already out of reckoning for a place in semi-finals and ended up with 16 points from 14 matches to finish sixth, only ahead of Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa.
If there was any positive for Pune in the final league clash it was that they managed to keep a clean slate for the first time after conceding goals for eight straight matches. Much of that was because of some brave goalkeeping from Arindam Bhattacharya, who was preferred ahead of star goalkeeper Edel Bete. FC Pune City also escaped unharmed at Rabindra Sarobar Stadium because Atletico de Kolkata lacked sharpness in attack. Spanish striker Juan Belencoso was guilty of missing at least four good chances as Atletico dominated despite coach Jose Molina making a host of changes to his team in an attempt to keep players fresh for semi-final battles.
It was Javi Lara who first tested Arindam with a long ranger which he managed to fist away and thereafter started the saga of missed Belencoso chances. The first came in the opening half when he sent his header wide from close range with only Arindam to beat. Pune City took 25 minutes for their first shot on goal and it came from marquee player Mohamed Sissoko who tried his luck from just outside the box with a fierce grounder but goalkeeper Dani Mallo was well positioned.
In the second session, Belencoso missed two of the easiest opportunities for Atletico de Kolkata. His first big miss was in the 52nd minute when Lara’s cross from left was deftly pushed towards goal by Bidyananda Singh from handshaking distance and Belencoso failed to turn the ball home. His second miss of the half was even worse in the 78th minute. Stephen Pearson got the ball from Lara on the edge of the box and he shot at goal which the keeper managed to punch out. However, the ball fell at the feet of Belencoso and the Spanish striker shockingly sent the ball wide