KOLKATA: Roy Krishna scored a brilliant hat-trick as ATK sealed their place in the ISL-6 play-offs with a dominant 3-1 victory over Odisha FC at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Saturday.
After a barren first half, Krishna (49th, 60th, 63rd) netted his first treble to single-handedly help the Kolkata-based side seal their fourth victory on the trot.
Manuel Onwo, on the other hand, scored a consolation goal for the visitors in the 67th minute.
With this win, the two-time champions returned to the top of the table thanks to a better goal difference of +19 over second-placed FC Goa (+15). Both the teams have 33 points from 16 games with two matches remaining in the league stage.
Just like the previous matches, ATK kept possession right from the start and dominated the proceedings.
The home side missed an easy chance to take lead in the seventh minute when Edu Garcia failed a simple tap-in from a Prabir Das cross. Although the chance was wasted, the hosts kept pressing in search of the lead and the visitors’ defence was tested on a number of occasions.
Just before the break, ATK got another chance when a free-kick was awarded after Krishna was brought down by Narayan Das just outside the box. But Javi Hernandez smashed the ball straight into the Odisha wall as both the teams went into the break goalless.
The change of ends worked wonders for Habas’ men. The home side looked determined to break the deadlock and their efforts finally paid off four minutes after the re-start. Hernandez sent in a fine corner which fell to Krishna, who was standing unmarked inside the box. The Fijian international struck home at ease to bring relief in the home dug out.
Despite the lead, ATK never looked to sit back and were hungry for more.
Just at the stroke of the hour mark, Krishna doubled the team’s scoring. Mandi Sosa sent in a long ball over the defence for Krishna to attack. The Fijian striker outpaced Odisha defender Carlos Delgado with a fine run before executing a brilliant chip over an on-rushing goalkeeper Francisco Dorronsoro.
Krishna wasn’t done yet. Just three minutes after scoring second, the 32-year old completed his hat-trick with a simple tap-in from a Jayesh Rane cross to send the home fans into ecstasy.
ATK looked certain to seal the tie with a clean sheet but against the run of play, Onwu scored a consolation goal for the visitors much to the disappointment of Habas.