The second match of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2016 season, pitting former champions Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) and Chennaiyin FC (CFC) against each other, came to life after a tepid first half as hosts ATK scored first, then fell behind and had to score a late equaliser to maintain their unbeaten home record against CFC.
The scorers for ATK were Sameehg Doutie (59th minute) and Iain Hume (86th minute), while Jayesh Rane (66th minute) and Hans Mulder (70th minute) scored for the visitors.
ATK's new coach Jose Molina stuck to the club's familiar 4-2-3-1 combination from the previous season, with Hume slotting in behind Helder Postiga, while Marco Materazzi played his familiar 4-4-2, handing starts to two former ATK players in left-back Nallappan Mohanraj and winger Baljit Singh Sahni.
The defending champions had their first sight of Debjit Majumder's goal when Sahni was brought down by ATK left-back Robert Lalthuamuana following a diagonal pass from Mulder. John Arne Riise's free-kick in the eighth minute took a deflection from the defensive wall and hit the underside of the bar, but didn't go in. In the 15th minute, a free kick at the other end of pitch by Spaniard Javi Lara found his compatriot Borja Fernandez, but he shot well over the target. Five minutes later, Doutie put in a speedy run from the right wing for ATK, and his cut back was picked up by Postiga, though his shot was well blocked by Bernard Mendy.
CFC would then create two chances of their own at the other end, first with Jeje Lalpekhlua setting up Davide Succi in the 21st minute -- who shot wide -- and then Jeje himself, whose grounded shot a minute later had to be scrambled away by Majumder. At the other end, Doutie's pace was causing problems for Mohanraj, but his attempt at playing a one-two with Postiga in the 28th minute resulted in the latter shooting well over Jamaican goalkeeper's Duwayne Kerr's frame. Kerr would intercept an intended cross from Doutie in the 35th minute, using his considerable frame to good effect. The CFC goalkeeper would then pull off two saves within a minute of each other close to half-time, first tipping over Lara's direct attempt from a free kick, and then comfortably collecting a Postiga shot from across the face of the goal.
The second half began with a mistake by Mendy, whose feeble attempt at a clearance gave possession away to Postiga, and his through ball found Lara, but Riise came in with a strong interception to save the champions. Lara would get another chance to test Kerr in the 50th minute off an ATK counter-attack, but the CFC goalkeeper effected a comfortable save low down to his right. ATK would create another chance in the 55th minute, as Doutie's cross from the right was met by Bikramjit Singh, but he failed to get his header on target thanks to pressure from Mendy.
In the 59th minute, Postiga found an onrushing Doutie on the right flank, and the latter brought the ball under control with a perfect first shot, before composing himself and slotting the ball past Kerr to give the home side the lead.
In the 66th minute, Jeje -- who in scoring CFC's first goal of the 2015 campaign against ATK had become the first Indian scorer for the league that year -- sent a speculative through-pass for Rane, who sprung the offside trap and then controlled the ball to score the equaliser for the visitors. Their evening got even better in the 70th minute, when a long-range effort from Mulder took a deflection off centre-back Tiri and effectively gave Majumder no chance to stop it as it rolled into the net low to the goalkeeper's right.
ATK would then up the tempo, with a headed effort by Postiga in the 72nd minute going straight to Kerr, and a Hume shot from inside the box two minutes later fizzing just past Kerr's far post. In the 83rd minute, CFC substitute Dudu Omagbemi would have two chances to put the game beyond the home side - first working a one-two with Jeje, but seeing his run intercepted by ATK substitute Prabir Das, and seconds later failing to keep a poke on a long ball from the left on target.
In the 85th minute, a harmless ball was floated in by Prabir towards Doutie, and he was pushed from behind by teenaged substitute Jerry Lalrinzuala, and the referee pointed to the spot. Hume would convert, bringing him level on the all-time goals tally with former CFC man John Stiven Mendoza.
CFC would create another opening two minutes from time, as Jeje laid the ball back for Rane, but the winger shot well over the target.
In three previous encounters in Kolkata in ISL history, ATK had registered two wins and one draw in the past two seasons, though their 2-1 win in the second leg of the semi-finals last year was not enough to overturn a 3-0 deficit they had carried from the first leg.