FORMER champions ATK suffered a 2-0 defeat to two-time runners-up Kerala Blasters in the opening match of the fifth Indian Super League (ISL) at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata last Saturday (29).
Matej Poplatnik and Slavisia Stojanovic scored in the second half as Kerala scored only their second win over the Kolkata franchise, and the first since the 2014 edition.
After enduring a poor ninth place finish last season, ATK overhauled the squad and roped in a trusted coach in Steve Coppell but their fate remained unchanged as they struggled to keep pace with Kerala.
The David James-coached outfit looked in their element right from the start with Slovenian Poplatnik continuously raiding ATK’s box before he broke the deadlock in the 77th minute.
There was more misery in store for ATK as Serbian Stojanovic doubled the lead from a long ball from Halicharan Narzary. The Kerala number eight took the ball in his stride with a touch to his left, cut it back in on his right and curled it beautifully in the top right corner.
Meanwhile Bengaluru FC made a perfect start to their campaign by defeating defending champions Chennaiyin FC 1-0 at the Sree Kanteerava stadium last Sunday (30). In what was a repeat of last
season’s final at the same venue, Miku’s 41st minute strike was enough for the Blues to overcome the visitors.
Bengaluru took the lead against the run of play. Xisco Hernandez won the ball following a midfield scrap and quickly released Miku behind the Chennaiyin defence with a perfectly weighted pass.
The Venezuelan striker unleashed a thunderbolt of a shot which, despite being aimed at Karanjit’s near post, left the Chennaiyin goalkeeper with no chance.
Chennaiyin threw everything at their opponents but the hosts held on to collect the three points.