Kolkata, Nov 14 (IANS) Table toppers Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) played out a breath taking, pacy goalless draw against hot on their heels Chennaiyin F.C in an Indian Super League encounter marred by a 12-minute power blackout at the Salt Lake Stadium here Friday.
The blank scoreline came as a surprise to football followers following a lively start to the game, with both sides creating opportunities to crack open each other’s defences.
Chennaiyin had more possession, but Atletico also had their moments and retained their pole position with 13 points from eight exchanges.
The visitors had the same number of points from the same number of games as their rivals, but remained second on goal difference. However, the barren result opened up opportunities for F.C Pune City to top the table if they win their next encounter.
For Chennaiyin, now second in the league table, both Steven Mendoza and Elano Blumer tried to split the game open from the word go.
On the other hand at the 22nd minute mark, the talismanic Ethiopian striker Fikru Teferra squandered probably the best chance of the game when he shot away from goal after a brilliant pass was laid on by Atletico medio Ofentse Nato.
There were chances created by Elano again, when one of his headers was off target and the next one prompted a world class save from Atletico custodian Subhashish Roy Chowdhury.
The stadium plunged into darkness at around the 37th minute mark, when the floodlit towers conked.
When the game finally resumed, the two sides continued to play with pace and gusto.
At halftime it was neck to neck as ATK had 48 percent and Chennaiyin enjoyed 52 percent of the ball possession.
In the early minutes of the second half, Fikru – who had been a constant threat to the Chennaiyin defence – clashed heads with Italian world cup legend Marco Materazzi – and had to leave the field temporarily with a head injury.
At the stroke of the hour, Fikru was brought down at the edge of the penalty box by the French defender Mikael Silvestre. The ATK captain and marquee player Luis Garcia’s left footed freekick curled over the wall and into the crossbar, an attempt that deserved better reward.
Atletico linkman Jofre Mateu kept cutting across defenders but could not provide the perfect pass. However, impressed by his crafty footwork, the Spaniard was adjudged the Hero of the Match.
Eight minutes from time, Balwant singh did put the ball at the back of the net finally, but only to be disallowed as the sphere had come of his right wrist onway to the net.
It was a nervy last five minutes for the hosts as they had to stave off waves of Chennaiyin raids.