Durand Cup 2022 | Kerala Blasters and ATK Mohun Bagan register easy wins
Kerala Blasters FC brought their A-game to the fore as they posted a 2-0 victory over Army Green FT in their final fixture of Group D on Wednesday. Two crucial first-half goals from Aimen and Aritra handed Tomasz Tchorz’s young guns not just the three points but also a ticket to the quarters.
The Blasters started off on a strong note, pressing high and clamping down the Army Green FT players who played out from the back. Enjoying a larger share of the possession, the Blasters were showing their finesse on the ball by attacking from all sides of the pitch. Muhammed Aimen was at the end of his side’s first chance of the game but the forward’s shot was blocked right away by the Army Green keeper Puia.
The Armed Forces side didn’t end up on the backfoot as they retaliated back with a strong counter-attack which culminated in Tejas making a brilliant tackle to stop their attack in the tracks. With their constant bombardment of players in the final third, the Tuskers found their opening goal in the 25th minute through Aimen who stunned everyone with a ridiculous curler from the edge of the box after Aritra Das's pass made a lovely overlapping run to find Aimen on the left with the latter finishing it in the top-right corner.
Robikanta Singh’s side wasn’t backing down in their fight and was hungry to find an equalizer but their attack was terminated by the Tuskers’ defense as Sachin Suresh made two quick saves to keep their heads above.
Tomasz Tchorz’s men found themselves in a comfortable position yet again as Aritra Das scored a stupendous left-footed goal that nestled in the top-right corner from an acute angle that gave his side a healthy two-goal cushion over their opponents.
The Tuskers remained in control of the game and kept creating chances but this time Puia put his laces behind the ball as he made a magnificent double save to stop the Blasters’ third goal of the match.
From perfectly timed runs to pin-point crosses, Kerala Blasters FC got everything in order but the Greens were defensively sound to brush off the attack. In the 73rd minute, Aimen was denied his second goal of the match as his header hit the woodwork after a looping cross from Roshan.
Army Green FT had their biggest chance of the game to reduce the deficit from a corner, but Sebin’s header went flying over the bar as the Blasters maintained their two-goal lead.
This wraps up Army Green FT’s Durand Cup campaign while Kerala Blasters FC live for another day as they advance to the knockout stages of the tournament.
ATK Mohun Bagan cruise past Indian Navy FT in a 2-0 win
ATK Mohun Bagan ended up on the winning side in their Group B fixture against Indian Navy FT at the Kishore Bharati Stadium in Kolkata on Wednesday. This win keeps the Mariners’ hopes alive for earning them qualification to the quarterfinals. Two goals in the opening 45 minutes from Lenny Rodrigues (18’) and Kiyan Nassiri Giri (28’) gained an all-important three points for the Juan Ferrando-led side.
Naming an all-Indian eleven on the pitch for the first time, ATK Mohun Bagan looked energetic and buzzing from the get go, and played on the upside, having more of the ball. Finding several openings in the attacking third, the Mariners were able to get past the Indian Navy defence but went overhead as two goals by Fardin were declared offside as the midfielder couldn’t hold his line, playing too deep on the shoulder of his defender.
In the 18th minute, Lenny Rodrigues broke the deadlock as he found the back of the net after squeezing past three defenders and finishing it with his left-foot, with the Indian Navy keeper having no chance to save it.
With a goal in their bag, Juan Ferrando’s men held their position and looked comfortable, keeping the side of the armed forces in check with constant progressive play. Minutes later, Kiyan Nassiri Giri made it two for his side as he made a brilliant run in between the defenders to find himself in a one-on-one-situation with the keeper, kept his composure and slotted it past the keeper.
The Kolkata side ramped up the pace of the game in the second half, denying Indian Navy any chance at goal with their organised and resolute defence. The Green and Maroons were unfortunate to not have a four-goal lead by the 53rd minute as the woodwork denied two great shots at goal by Ricky Shabong and Fardin, who deserved a goal after providing two terrific assists.
Indian Navy got their best shot at the ATK Mohun Bagan goal in the 65th minute after Hari’s shot from point blank range was saved by Arsh Anwar. The game took a sombre tone as neither side could complete their attack as the game took a sporadic turn and had prolonged possession by either side.
ATK Mohun have done all they can after taking home three points from this match as their fate in the Durand Cup hangs on the results of the remaining fixtures. Indian Navy, on the contrary, play their final game of the group stage against Rajasthan United on Monday.