10-man Hyderabad held to a point by ATK Mohun Bagan

League leaders score controversial, late equalizer in a 2-2 draw

Vasco, Goa: Hyderabad FC put in a spirited performance at the Tilak Maidan as they were held to a draw by Antonio Lopez’s ATK Mohun Bagan on Monday. Aridane Santana (8’) and Roland Alberg (75’) were on the scoresheet for HFC. But second-half goals from Manvir Singh (57’) and Pritam Kotal (90 +3’) secured a point for the visitors.

Manolo Marquez’s side, who played almost the entire game with ten men, remain in fourth place, with 28 points from 19 games. They are just a point above NorthEast United, who play on Tuesday and a couple of points below FC Goa who are 3rd.

The game started in an unforgettable manner for Hyderabad as the ever-present Chinglensana Singh was shown a red card for a pull-back on David Williams, less than five minutes into the game. The Indian defender looked to have held the Australian attacker back, as he left his side to play with 10 men for more than 85 minutes of the game.

But a giveaway at the back from ATKMB brought about the first goal of the game as Aridane did well to latch on to a back pass and slot home his 10th goal of the season. Liston Colaco had a couple of half-chances that he failed to convert, nor find a teammate in space but Hyderabad did well to keep the visitors away from their goal, for most of the first half.

However, just over ten minutes after the restart a through ball from Williams sent Manvir through on goal. Manvir made no mistake from an acute angle as he beat Laxmikant Kattimani at the near post. The keeper should have stood up and done better but Hyderabad never let their heads down and found a way to take the lead once again.

Roland Alberg, who came off the bench at the 70th-minute mark, scored a sumptuous volley from the edge of the box, as he latched on to a flick-on from Aridane and found the bottom right corner.

But with a man down, Hyderabad could not keep ATKMB away from goal and a corner, two minutes into stoppage time brought about their second goal. A well-worked set-piece routine from the left and a decent ball in saw HFC’s defence beaten as Pritam Kotal had an empty net to tap it in.

However, replays show that not one but two of the visitors who attempted to go for the ball were well offside, as ATKMB had to rely on a controversial goal late in the game to steal a point.

Fran Sandaza had half a chance right at the end but hit his header was straight at Arindam Bhattacharja, as Hyderabad had to settle for a point, after an intense performance all around the field.

Nikhil Poojary, at full-back, Joel Chianese, as a deep-lying midfielder and Odei Onaindia, without his partner at the back, were all instrumental in taking on ATK Mohun Bagan toe-to-toe, all night. But it was Aridane Santana, who put in a captain’s performance, that won the ‘Hero of the Match’ award on the night.

The controversy surrounding the ATKMB equalizer dampened what would have been a heroic win for Hyderabad FC. They now need a positive result against FC Goa in the final game of the league campaign, to book their ticket to the knockout phases of the competition.

Hyderabad FC are back in action on Sunday, the 28th of February, when they take on Juan Ferrando’s FC Goa, in an early kick-off at Fatorda.

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