Mumbai City FC paid the price for a late red card in the second half as Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat in an Indian Super League (ISL) encounter at the Mumbai Football Arena on Tuesday.
In tune with the festive mood of Dussehra, the tie was a riveting affair from start to finish. First, the hosts reaped the dividend of a fantastic first half when Matias Defederico (27th) found the back of the net to go into the break with their noses in front.
But the visitors were allowed an escape route back into the game when Mumbai City FC midfielder Pronay Halder was sent off with a second yellow card in the 72nd minute. Soon after the Alexandre Guimaraes-coached side were reduced to 10-men, Javi Lara scored with a long-ranger to level things for the former champions.
The stalemate ended Mumbai's all-win record in the first two games, but helped them go top of the table with seven points from three outings. ATK on the other hand, moved to the third position after bagging five points from three matches.
Both sides missed their marquees in Diego Forlan (Mumbai City FC) and Helder Postiga (ATK). Bikramjit Singh was brought back in place of Jewel Raja after the former recovered from his injury. Mumbai benched Anwar Ali in favour of Brazilian Gerson.
The hosts looked the likelier of the two sides to take the lead first after a barrage of attacks in the early exchanges forced ATK to drop deep into their own half. At one point, winger Sameehg Doutie was seen virtually playing at right back.
All the pressure Mumbai applied centred around Defederico who was brilliant throughout the half and was rightly the goalscorer.
Aiborlang Khongjee lobbed the ball for Defederico who showed exemplary skills to bring down the ball with a superb first touch and then take on Arnab Mondal to fire past Debjit into the bottom right corner.
There was a brief stoppage in play when Tiri clattered into teammate Borja Fernandes and the Spaniard had to be stretchered out, only to be back moments later.
After the break, Iain Hume was replaced by Stephen Pearson, raising a few eyebrows. Abhinas Ruidas was also drafted in by coach Molina to up the ante in place of the more defensive Bikramjit Singh.
Ruidas injected the much-needed pace into ATK's attacks and trying to contain the flurry of raids Pronay—already on a yellow card—committed a needless foul on Borja, drawing the dreaded red card from the referee.
Down to 10 men, Mumbai were always against the tide and ATK capitalised on the numerical advantage with the match on its last legs.
Lara cut in from the left to let loose a rasping long-ranger that took a deflection off substitute Jackichand Singh to bulge the net.