Hyderabad FC were second best on Wednesday, losing 0-1 to ATK Mohun Bagan in the second leg of the Indian Super League semifinal at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, but qualified for their maiden final with a 3-2 victory on aggregate over two legs.
Roy Krishna scored in the 79th minute to give ATKMB a glimmer of hope but in the end, it was not enough for the finalists of last season as Hyderabad booked a final date with Kerala Blasters at the PJN Stadium in Fatorda on Sunday. In the first leg, Bartholomew Ogbeche, Yasir Mohammad and Javier Siverio netted for Hyderabad as they won the match 3-1.
Hyderabad head coach Manolo Marquez played the same team that won the first leg. Juan Ferrando made a few changes to the ATKMB side from the last game with centre-back Tiri missing due to an injury. Kiyan Nassiri, who scored a memorable hattrick in the Kolkata derby earlier this season, got a start.
ATKMB looked the likelier of the two teams to nod ahead in the opening exchanges with Liston Colaco was proving to be a handful for the Hyderabad defenders with his runs. Colaco's industry could have paid dividends soon but he curled his effort just wide of target after dribbling past a few Hyderabad shirts inside the box. He then tried to set up Krishna with a similar run and delivery inside the box but Yasir Mohammad did well to keep the Fijian striker at bay.
There was no stopping Colaco as he shimmied past a few defenders post the drinks break and took a swipe at goal only for Laxmikant Kattimani to pull off a stunning save with his outstretched leg. At the other end, Aniket Jadhav spurned a good chance to make it 4-1 on aggregate for Hyderabad, nodding a free header from five yards wide. The best chance of the half, though, fell to Hugo Boumous who could not convert from a close range after a superb cross from Prabir Das.
Hyderabad suffered a blow early on in the second half when Sauvik Chakrabarti had to come off due to an injury with Sahil Tavora replacing the midfielder. ATKMB kept piling on one attack after another as Hyderabad sat back and defended deep. Ferrando took off Sandesh Jhingan and introduced Manvir Singh, going all out in search of goals. There were huge appeals for a penalty when Joni Kauko was brought down by Akash Mishra but replays showed he was tackled just outside the box.
The goal came from a likely source for ATKMB as Colaco showed his magic again down the left flank, bursting down that side to cross from the byline at the far post where Krishna was on hand to convert the chance.
ATKMB tried their best in the last ten minutes but it proved to be too tall an order as they succumbed to a semifinal exit.