ISL Semi final 2 : Chennaiyin FC thrash Atletico de Kolkata 3-0 in first leg

Atletico Chennai ISL 1Pune: Chennaiyin FC thrashed Atletico de Kolkata 3-0 in Pune in the 1st leg of the second semi-final of the Indian Super League (ISL) season II. Bruno Pelissari (39'), Jeje Steven (57') and goal machine Mendoza (68') were on target for the Chennai-based side.

ATK now have a mountain to climb during the return leg on Wednesday if they want to qualify for a consecutive second final of the tournament. They will have to win the second leg by a margin of 4-0 or 5-1 or 6-2. Even if they are able to keep a similar scoreline of 3-0, then the match will go to extra time and if required, to the penalties.

Coming to Saturday's match, ATK head coach Antonio Lopez Habas opted for an ultra-defensive strategy which simply backfired. This has got to be the most disappointing performance from ATK in this ISL season. They were simply outpaced, out-thought and outwitted by the Chennai side in each and every department. Pelissari was the first to put Chennaiyin ahead in the 39th minute with a screamer when his free kick from a distance swirled and bamboozled ATK goalkeeper Amrinder Singh before finding the back of the net. It was a fantastic free kick which gave Amrinder no chance whatsoever.

Four minutes later, ATK suffered another setback as their skipper Borja Fernandes had to leave the field limping and Serbian international Lekic took his place.

In the second half, Jeje doubled Chennaiyin's lead when Amrinder was guilty of venturing out and was caught on the wrong foot by Mendoza, who got the better of him and passed it to Jeje inside the box. Jeje kept his calm and put the ball into the left corner of the box, beyond anybody's reach.

The final blow came in the 68th minute when a long ball from Malison found Mendoza's feet, who relayed it to Jeje. The Indian international then cleverly scooped the ball to the Colombian, who as usual came up with a clinical finish at the right corner of the box, making Amrinder look like just an audience. This was Mendoza's 12th goal of the season and is now two clear of ATK's Ian Hume.

ATK would like to forget this as soon as possible as everything went wrong for them on Saturday night. Their star striker Ian Hume was widely quiet and so were Sameegh Doutie, Arata and Gavilan. Whether their coach's approach to the match was wrong or the players themselves lost their touch, it’s debatable. It hardly looked like a team who were the first to secure the play-off berth and finished second in the league table. It will be extremely difficult for them to come back from a 0-3 deficit at their homeground on next Wednesday. It will be an extremely tough job for Habas's boys but not an impossible one. After all they should draw inspiration from Chennaiyin only who almost came back from a similar situation against Kerala Blasters last year!