Talking Points: Fulham Kept Tenacious ATK At Bay With Andre Schurrle's Strike

Rohit Ganguly  |  Just in  |  6 Months Ago

After posing a brazen act of defiance for 70 minutes at the Pinatar Arena Football Centre in Murcia, two-times ISL champions, ATK finally came undone to Premier League stalwarts, Fulham Football Club. The only goal of the match came from the feet of the World Cup winner for Germany, Andre Schurrle, who fired home a fine strike into the bottom-right corner of the net after being teed up just outside the box.


Despite dictating terms right since the outset of the game, Fulham failed to rattle the impasse due to the tenacious doggedness of veteran custodian, Arindam Bhattacharya. The ATK rearguard exhibited nerves of steel and tremendous resolve to nullify Fulham’s moves up front. However, ATK’s attacks seemed to be too toothless to trouble the Fulham defence. Manuel Lanzarote was the silver lining in a cloud-studded sky for the Kolkata giants.


Fulham, under the tutelage of Slavisa Jokanovic, fielded their first-string set which featured the likes of Le Marchand, Mawson, De La Torre, Chambers and definitely the super-sub, Andre Schurlle. ATK, on the contrary, adhered to a young side which saw the Indian wunderkind Komal Thatal getting his debut for the Red and White Brigade. Here are the talking points which tipped the game:



Arindam Bhattacharya: A Titan redivivus


Despite the scoreline seemingly reading 1-0 in favour of the Whites, it could have been much more embarrassing for the visitors, had it not been an emphatic Arindam show under the woodwork. He was first summoned to the team’s deliverance after he produced a remarkable save to deny a fine free-kick from Ayite in the 9th minute.


ATK’s sloppy midfield made affairs much easier for the English contingency as they ran riot over the visitors’ rearguard.


A stoked up Arindam denied Chambers his share of glory after he tipped the pile-driver away with a desperate dive. Arindam snuck of out his line again to snatch away another opportunity from the jaws of a lurking Ayite, before he slipped and the ensuing ball rolled out of play after ricocheting off a Fulham player.


Just as both the teams started tiring up in the dying embers of the first-half, Aboubakar Kamara found himself whizzing past a dogged John Johnson and fired a neat strike towards the bottom-left of the net, however, Arindam came out with an even better dive to keep the score intact.


Moments later, Eliott’s fine left-footed strike was parried off again in exchange of a corner. Despite all his heroics until this very end, he finally let his guard down after Schurrle breezed past a flagged Johnson and fired home a low shot into the bottom-right corner from the edge of the box.


With eight minutes to pass, Fulham almost doubled their lead when Kamara squared off Bryan with a peach of a cross and the latter did a stellar job to prance past a couple of ATK defenders and unleash a meaty shot of his own, which was parried away with tantamount brilliance by Arindam again, thereby keeping the scoreline at 1-0.


A rock-solid defence kept hopes alive for the Kolkata outfit


A defence which featured the likes of Aiborlang Khongjee, Andre Bikey, John Johnson and Sena Ralte, proved a handful for the task they were shouldered with.


Khongjee’s aerial clearances nullified several crosses which were curled in from the wings of Fulham. Bikey exhibited tremendous skills when it came to tough and strong tussles on the ground. On a couple of occasions, Bikey went rattling into the attacker to hack them down and in the neatest way possible.



Johnson seems to be a shadow of his former scintillating self. He has still to prove a point in the ATK rearguard and will probably take some time to snap out of the fire of baptism.


Sena Ralte will need a lot more grooming for the Kolkata based franchise as this youngster was decent but left the wings vulnerable, every time he went on for an overlap. However, in India, things will not be the same as counter-attacks are not that fast which Fulham did.



Lack of firepower from ATK


ATK’s ship sank in the precursor edition of ISL because of no sting up front. Despite vaunting of names like Robbie Keane, the marquee got injured and featured only in a few handful matches.

This dented their prospects and left ATK begging for a finisher up front. Despite notching up Everton Santos and promising football from Manuel Lanzarote, things still seem bleak for ATK.


Lanzarote’s couple of shots from the distance was tipped over by the Fulham custodian, but that was it. Kalu Uche did a decent job on a couple of occasions but failed to stir the ball home as he bowed out to consistent pressure from the Fulham defenders.


The only positive opportunity which sent the ATK fans to their feet was a Kalu Uche pile-driver which whizzed past the net leaving the fans begging.


Tactical errors from Steve Coppell


Steve Coppell is quite renowned for his defensive strategies. However, when you are facing a Premier League giant, only defence will fetch you nothing but frustration.


The visitors put up a solid stand in their backyard with minimal resistance in their midfield. We can talk about the attacks later as there were hardly any. However, the defence seemed to cower down into an individual’s game. It was not the usual unit which defended but four individuals who never recognized his partner and went on for scrappy last-ditch dives. This must be a clear sign of trepidation for Coppell because when the Indian players flood in, things will go haywire with breach of communication.


Another glaring error which riveted the attention was the introduction of Komal Thatal. Komal Thatal is way too much hyped than his stature and hasn’t been quite instrumental in any of his team’s success. Matos benched him mostly, and he was just a ghostly moniker doing the rumor stories for the news feed of many. Coppell introduced Thatal in such a high-octane encounter and was compelled to swap him after all Thatal did was taking a stroll in the park.

Can ATK win the ISL this season?


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