Bengaluru FC continued their unbeaten start to the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2018 with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over ATK at the Swami Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Wednesday.
A first-ever ISL goal for 18-year-old Komal Thatal (15´) had put ATK ahead but strikes either side of the half-time break from Miku (45+3´) and Erik Paartalu (47´) ensured Carles Cuadrat´s men held on to the third spot on the table. ATK, meanwhile, slumped to a third loss of the season and find themselves placed fifth with seven points from six matches.
After a cagey start, the match sparked into life in the 15th minute when ATK surged ahead through Komal. Everton Santos was the architect with a sumptuous through-ball from midfield which Thatal got to before holding off Nishu Kumar and sending an arrowing finish into the bottom corner past goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
After taking the lead, ATK sat deep and defended resolutely as Bengaluru strived for the equaliser. Miku should have restored parity five minutes later when Nishu picked him out with a cross from the left. However, the Venezuelan´s thumping header was straight at Arindam Bhattacharya who parried it instinctively.
Steve Coppell´s side looked well organised in defence following that and were looking to counter-attack while Bengaluru saw most of their attacks break down in the final third. However, ATK were dealt a blow when striker Kalu Uche was forced to go off after suffering a groin injury.
At the stroke of half-time, Gerson Vieira committed a foul on Miku right outside the penalty box. Miku rolled the free-kick to Dimas Delgado before finding the top-corner of Bhattacharya´s near post with a brilliant finish to pull the Blues level.
Bengaluru continued their momentum into the second-half and took the lead within two minutes. Delgado´s free-kick into the box was headed out by Ricky Lallawmawma. But it fell to Paartalu whose venomous half-volley could not be kept out by Bhattacharya.
Bengaluru kept possession and frustrated the home team who lacked a focal point in attack. However, Manuel Lanzarote did fashion a couple of opportunities with his guile and passing ability but to no avail.
In the final 10 minutes, ATK ramped up the pressure on Bengaluru and almost had an equaliser when Gerson Vieira hit the base of the post with a header from a corner-kick.
That was the closest the two-time champions came to another goal as the Blues saw off the late surge with relative ease.
Full-time: ATK 1-2 Bengaluru FC
90: Five minutes added
89: Yellow card Juan Antonio
87: Substitution for Bengaluru FC, Dimas Delgado OFF Francisco Hernández Marcos IN
84: Yellow card Pronay Halder
79: Substitution for ATK, Balwant Singh OFF Hitesh Sharma IN
78: Substitution for Bengaluru FC, Udanta Kumam Singh OFF Boithang Haokip IN
75: Substitution for ATK, Komal Thatal OFF Jayesh Rane IN
64: Substitution for Bengaluru FC, Nishu Kumar OFF Tashni Rino Anto IN
57: Yellow card Juan Antonio
49: Yellow card Erik Paartalu
47: Goal!! Erik Paartalu scores for Bengaluru FC
46: Second half kick-off
Half-time: ATK 1-1 Bengaluru FC
45+3: Goal!! Nicolas Ladislao Fedor scores for Bengaluru FC
45: Four minutes of added time
42: Substitution for ATK, Kalu Uche OFF Noussair El Maimouni IN