ISL 2018-19: Patient ATK edge past FC Pune City
ISL/Sportzpics
Gerson Vieira scored the only goal of the game to leave the Stallions winless even after seven games...

ATK defeated FC Pune City by the slightest of margins in a 2018-19 Indian Super League (ISL) game at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.

Gerson Vieira (82') scored the solitary goal of the game to hand the former champions their third win of the campaign and second at home.

The long-term injury to striker Kalu Uche meant Steve Coppell had to make the solitary change from the team that started the 2-1 loss to Bengaluru FC last week. Andre Bikey was handed a full debut after six minutes scattered over three games from the bench.

The Cameroonian slotted right into central defence with Gerson Vieira playing the holding role. Everton Santos was shifted to the flank as Balwant Singh regained his favoured position as the lone striker.

With Marcelinho and Diego Carlos suspended, Marko Stankovic injured and Emiliano Alfaro indisposed, the Maharashtra side only had three foreigners to call upon. Matts Mills, Martin Diaz and Jonathan Vila, all started.

Pradhyum Reddy, in his last game in the capacity of caretaker manager brought in Sahil Panwar, Alwyn George and Nikhil Poojary into the mix.

Komal Thatal displayed youthful eccentricity as the 18-year-old was the liveliest player on the pitch. Early on, he gave a few headaches to the Pune City midfield as he kept it simple with his passes and constantly changed flanks.

His captain, Manuel Lanzarote however, was wasteful in no less than five opportunities from freekicks. Two of them were shielded away by goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh who was buoyed by a solid Gurtej Singh in defence in front of him.

ATK FC Pune City ISL 2018-19

Squeezed between those misses for the hosts was an unlucky effort from Ashqiue Kuruniyan. It was the twentieth minute when the Kerala-born bombed down the left and drifted into the box.

His curling effort was parried off by Arindam Bhattacharya and Ricky Lallawmawma cleared his lines thereafter, in Pune City's only shot on target in the first half. Only a minute before had Lanzarote slammed the ball into the upright.

Former Indian Arrows midfielder Abhishek Halder was sent in by Reddy soon after the change of ends. The ISL debutant had a shot on goal in his very first involvement but from range.

The game of misses continued on either end but Bhattacharya was called into the game twice by Poojary before the hour mark, with both chances created by Robin Singh.

With a quarter of an hour left, Everton Santos won a freekick right outside the penalty arc minutes after he missed a glorious chance. The set-piece got deflected off for a corner and Lanzarote's delivery could not do any damage as Vieira fouled Vila inside the box.

The former Brazil U17 skipper made amends almost immediately with the eventual winner. Lanzarote rode into the box and heeled it back for substitute Jayesh Rane.

The winger took his time to deliver across the face of goal perfectly. Ashutosh Mehta and goalkeeper Kamaljit were not alert enough as Vieira charged into the box and headed the ball into the net with eight minutes of regulation time remaining.

That settled the outcome as ATK moved a place up to the sixth position on the table with ten points from seven games. In the same number of outings, Pune City remain winless with only two points to show.

The Kolkata side pay a visit to Mumbai City after the international break while the Stallions are sure to have a new manager before they face Jamshedpur FC at home on 21 November.

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