ATK Mohun Bagan have accomplished the task what star-studded Bengaluru FC failed to achieve. The Kolkata giants ATK Mohun Bagan thus became the first Indian football club in three years to reach the AFC Cup semi-finals. The passage to the knockout stage was cleared with a 1-1 draw against the champion team from Bangladesh – Basundhara Kings.
ATK Mohun Bagan held the champion Bangladesh side 1-1 in their AFC Cup encounter in Maldives on Tuesday and emerged on top of the AFC Cup Group D table with seven points from three matches.
Bengaluru FC in the same group are lying third, having secured merely one point from three games. The JSW Group-owned high profile team failed to move past the first round whereas ATKMB will play the winners of Uzbekistan’s Nasaf and Turkmenistan’s Ahal on September 22
Bagan had made it to the semi-finals of the the inter-zonal semi-final of the second tier continental tournament as South Asian Zone champions.
In the match on Tuesday, the Bengal outfit had drawn the first blood in the 28th minute. Brazilian midfielder Jonathan Fernandes found the net for Bashundhara Kings. But they were reduced to ten men minutes before the break.
Bagan got the equaliser and the ticket to the semi-finals when Australian forward David Williams capitalised on an assist from Liston Colaco. The equaliser was good enough to put the Kolkata outfit atop the points table, while Bashundhara Kings finished in the second spot with five points.
ATKMB needed a win or a draw against Bashundhara to go through while the Bangladeshi outfit required a win.
Bagan struggled at the start against the pressing game of a determined Kings and the latter gained control of the match when Fernandes struck one from the edge of the box giving the rival goalkeeper Amrinder Singh no chance. Both teams had a few chances in the first quarter.
Searching an equaliser in their quest to avoid elimination, Bagan found one after the change of ends when the Kings appeared to be on the defensive with a man down.