ISL: ATK end group stage with 0-0 draw against Pune

Kolkata, Dec 2 (IANS) Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) ended their group stage engagements with their eighth draw of the Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament in a 0-0 tie against FC Pune City here at the Rabindra Sarovar stadium on Friday.

Pune coach Antonio Lopez Habas failed to win both the group stage matches against his former employers as both sides fired blanks in an otherwise inconsequential encounter.

The hosts, who have alreadt qualified for the semi-finals, have 20 points from 14 outings while Pune bowed out with 16.

ATK forward Juan Belencoso missed four clear-cut chances in both halves while the visitors failed to create many in a turgid affair.

ATK will now have to wait to learn their semi-final opponents as table-toppers Mumbai City FC and Delhi Dynamos lock horns on Saturday.

As expected, the hosts made wholesale changes to the team that drew 1-1 against Kerala Blasters. The likes of Helder Postiga, Borja Fernandes and Iain Hume were given rest while Henrique Sereno and Debjit Mazumder were also made to cool their heels.

Pune keeper Arindam Bhattacharya was called into action as soon the fifth minute when he palmed away a stinging Javi Lara free-kick saved after a darting run by Abhinash Ruidas down the left flank was pockmarked by Rahul Bheke.

Minutes later, Javi Lara had acres of space in front of him to run at the rival defence but Arindam again pulled off a good save to deny the in-form Spaniard.

ATK looked the likelier of the two sides to take the lead as Belencoso first side-netted a Ruidas cross to follow it up with an effort over the bar after some slick play saw Ruidas feed the profligate Spaniard inside the box.

Pune had their only chance at the half-hour mark when Anibal Rodriguez missed from the edge of the box.

The first half ended goalless.

Belencoso missed another golden opportunity six minutes into the second period when the tall striker headed wide a Bidyananda Singh cross from handshaking distance.

Pune got two chances in quick succession but both substitute Dramane Traore (introduced in place of Momar Ndoye in the 72nd minute) and Sanju Pradhan missing.

ATK coach Jose Molina replaced Jewel Raja to bring in Stephen Pearson, who minutes after coming on, was part of a twin miss.

First the Scotsman’s shot from just inside the box was parried away by Arindam but only as far as a lurking Belencoso who somehow conspired to muff one of the easiest of chances.

Hume was brought on in the dying minutes of the match but the score remained unchanged.

–IANS

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