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ATKMB beat Hyderabad on penalties to reach the final

ATK Mohun Bagan emerged victorious 4-3 on penalties against defending champions Hyderabad FC in the second leg of the Indian Super League (ISL) playoff semi-final at Salt Lake Stadium on Monday to seal a place in the final against Bengaluru FC.

The tie remained intact after 120 minutes of football before Vishal Kaith saved a Javier Siverio penalty, followed by a miss from Bartholomew Ogbeche allowing ATKMB to win the shootout with a penalty from captain Pritam Kotal.

The shootout itself was a reflection of Hyderabad’s struggle throughout the game to deflect shots and upset their opponents. A series of ATKMB attacks tested Hyderabad for most of the game. Glan Martins’ long-range effort flew inches from the far post. From the resulting goal kick, Gurmeet Singh played it straight at Dimitrios Petratos, who ran towards goal and fired as Kiyan Nassiri waited unmarked. Moments later, Manvir Singh stepped in and flicked the crossbar from the edge of the box.

Ten minutes into the second half, Hyderabad earned a pair of corners, but the closest they came was Ogbeche’s shot past the outside of the net. At the other end of the field, a brilliant cross from Asish Rai went straight to Hugo Boumous, who deflected wide to force a Gurmeet save.

Slavko Damjanovic was solid on defense for the Mariners, but the defender came close to giving them the lead in the 81st minute when Petratos converted a free kick and his shot went wide. Three minutes later, Siverio came on to record what would be Hyderabad’s only shot on goal with a tame header.

The final attempt of regulation time came in the third minute of added time when Carl McHugh headed a Federico Gallego corner over the crossbar. In the eighth minute of the first half of extra time, Lalrinliana Hnamte came close to breaking the tie when her shot from distance grazed the outside of the far post.

Seconds before the extra time break, a crucial interception from Nikhil Poojary prevented Gallego’s cross from reaching Liston Colaco, who was right in front of goal. Tired legs on both sides tried to force the issue in the second half, but the tie remained intact and the game went to penalties.

In the penalty shootout, Kaith saved Siverio’s penalty before Ogbeche fired his penalty into the post. .Brendan Hamill, coming on in the 114th minute, missed for ATKMB, but they had enough cushion to seal victory in a game they dominated.

Having avenged last season’s semi-final result against Hyderabad, ATKMB are one win away from glory when they take on Bengaluru FC in Goa on Saturday 18 March.