New Delhi: Goal-shy Delhi Dynamos were held to yet another frustrating draw when they settled for a 1-1 stalemate with defending champions Atletico de Kolkata in an Indian Super League (ISL) contest here on Saturday.
It was Dynamos' third consecutive home draw after being held to 1-1 draws by NorthEast United FC and Mumbai City FC in their previous encounters, on each occasion slipping to take the pole position in the standings.
Canadian striker Ian Hume put Atletico ahead in 27 minutes. They led 1-0 at the break. Substitute Ghanaian forward Richard Gatze brought Dynamos on level terms in the 61st minute.
Both teams missed the chance to go on top of the standings with the draw. Dynamos, however, improved to 15 points from nine matches but stayed at the third place due to an inferior goal difference to second-placed FC Pune City who have 15 points from 10 games.
Atletico also were rooted at fourth with 14 points from 10 contests.
A minute's silence was observed in the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium as a mark of respect for the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks on Friday.
Dynamos effected three changes in their starting team, fielding Brazilian midfielder Gustavo Dos Santos, defender Anderson Chicao and striker Robin Singh while Atletico named their marquee Portuguese Helder Postiga on the bench.
The early action mostly concentrated in the midfield zone as both sides were reluctant to launch an all-out attack from the very beginning.
Dynamos, being the home team, had to show greater urgency. Their attacks were predominantly from the left side where nippy midfielder Zodingliana Tochhawng made a couple of strong runs.
He produced two teasing crosses at the end of those runs but no Dynamos attacker was swift enough to get at the end of those opportunities.
Both teams needed around half an hour to settle down into any rhythm. The opening goal, from Atletico's first meaningful attack, facilitated the formation of an initial pattern.
Rino Anto's low cross from the right was weakly dealt with by Dynamos hesitant goalkeeper Antonio Doblas, who only offered a weak right hand to palm away the cross in front of him inside the penalty box. The ball fell to Hume who smashed in his fourth goal of the tournament.
The unexpected gift spurred the visiting side as they tested the shaky Doblas soon after going ahead. Dynamos didn't expect to concede so softly and before they could regroup their Spanish custodian again spilled a regulation take, but salvaged the situation with a valiant second dive.
Dynamos, with only seven goals in eight matches, took a while to get their act together. They needed their sprightly Brazilian Gustavo Dos Santos to inspire them. But the left-footed midfielder, though agile, tried to do too many things alone and was foiled in his attempts.
Dynamos were emerging second best in the midfield battle and pushed men forward to minimize the gap between their malfunctioning midfielders and strikers. That allowed Atletico to soak up the pressure and plot swift counter attacks.
Dynamos had to show more energy and purpose in their attacks after trailing in the first half. They began in right earnest but didn't make much headway initially.
The Atletico defence kept their shape and crowded out all incoming attacks to force Dynamos into taking hopeful long-range efforts.
Dynamos' marquee player-coach Roberto Carlos brought in the Ghanaian forward in place of Dos Santos on 55 minutes and that did the trick six minutes later.
Gadze capitalised on some intricate play on the edge of the box from Frenchman Florent Malouda to turn his marker and unleash an unstoppable left-footer that crashed into the roof of the net.
Carlos injected English forward Adil Nabi, withdrawing Dutch medio Hans Mulder to exploit the new-found momentum.
His ploy nearly bore fruit as they got a glorious chance to wrest the initiative.
Gadze, already an impact maker with the equaliser, this time found himself in a scoring position inside the box on the right side but his strong shot across the face of the goal unluckily rebounded off the post and his second attempt also went wide in the 77th.
By now Dynamos dominated ball possession and looked the more likely to score. They did score, much to the delight of the sparse crowd, but Gadze's opportunistic strike was deemed offside.