ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Antonio Habas was frustrated and furious with the refereeing after his side's 2-1 loss to NorthEast United FC at the Fatorda Stadium on Tuesday. ATKMB remain second in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 points table but failed in closing the gap to table-toppers Mumbai City FC. Luis Machado and Federico Gallego scored for NorthEast United while Roy Krishna was the goalscorer for ATKMB, with all the goals coming in the second half of the match. NEUFC took the lead but ATKMB equalised only for Federico to swing in a stunning winner.
Krishna and Gallego's goal was non-controversial but it was NEUFC's first goal that was the centrepiece of the controversy. Tiri played a loose ball, which ended up putting him in a position where he had to chase the ball alongside Machado. While he was close to the ball, Machado shouldered him and got control of the ball. At this moment, the linesman raised the flag but the referee chose to overrule his linesman and did not whistle for the foul. Machado played on and ended up finding the back of the net.
The whole of ATKMB bench and Tiri were furious with the goal but the referee, after consulting his linesman, decided to uphold the goal. After the game, Habas expressed his frustration with the decision and said he completely failed to understand the logic behind the referee making that call.
"The first half we were better than the opponent, we had two chances and didn't score. In the second half, the referee took negative decision for us and the opponent scored the goal. I think today's result is because of the referee's decision for NorthEast United's first goal. After that it was another match.
"It was a foul and the linesman had the flag up, I have nothing more to say. I think today the referee doesn't have the knack, I don't understand his decision when the linesman had the flag up," Habas said to the broadcasters.
The scorer of the controversial goal, Machado, was a happy man after the win and felt that the team fought "till the last minute" and "deserved the win". NEUFC have gone a personnel change with Spanish coach Gerard Nus being sacked and Khalid Jamil taking over as the interim head coach. Under Jamil, NEUFC have now won two straight matches.
However, Machado said it didn't matter if the coach was Nus or Jamil, the team was only looking to make the playoffs. Coach Jamil also attributed the victories to the players rather than his tactics.
"It is because of the players that we got the result. They worked hard and we deserved this victory. Both victories have come because of the players, it is a collective effort," he said to the broadcasters.