Kolkata, Nov 11:
Former champions ATK rode on a late strike from Gerson Vieira to hand bottom-placed FC Pune City a 1-0 defeat in an Indian Super League clash at the Saltlake Stadium here Saturday.
Brazilian defender Vieira scored the winner in the 82nd minute to hand the Stallions their fifth loss from seven matches.
ATK’s persistence was finally rewarded when captain Manuel Lanzarote found Jayesh Rane with space down the right with a lovely backheel. The substitute’s cross into the six-yard box was met with a glancing header by Vieira who came sprinting from the midfield to send the ball into the bottom left post.
ATK thus returned to winning ways after a defeat to Bengaluru FC in the last match. They climbed to sixth spot with 10 points from seven games.
Pune, with just two points from seven matches, will be wondering if there is a way for them to stay afloat in the competition.
ATK started the match brightly against Pune City, who fielded eight Indian players and just three foreign players.
Pronay Halder was the first to force Pune goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh into a save with a long ranger in the second minute. Manuel Lanzarote then had the Pune goalie on tenterhooks as he floated a free-kick agonisingly wide.
The Kolkata-side maintained their dominance and almost took the lead when Vieira won a free-kick on the edge of the box in the 17th minute. Lanzarote’s curler, however, struck the woodwork, much to the home side’s disbelief.
Pune City were very much on the back foot for the rest of the first half as well. Balwant Singh stung the palms of Kamaljit before Lanzarote curled another free-kick just wide of the goal at the stroke of half-time.
The second half started on the same note with ATK passing the ball around to try and unlock the Pune defence while the visitors were playing on the counter.
One such counter saw Robin Singh set up Nikhil Poojari from the left wing but the latter’s shot was kept out by an alert Arindam Bhattacharya.
ATK’s frustration was growing at the other end as Komal Thatal’s cross fell for Balwant who set up Lanzarote. But the Spaniard’s lazy attempt from inside the box was blocked away.
In the 75th minute, Kamaljit did his team no favours by misjudging Lanzarote’s corner. Balwant kept it in and after a mad scramble, Everton Santos blazed it over the bar from close range.