Kolkata, Dec 10: A second-half penalty conversion by Fikru Teferra took Atletico de Kolkata to the Indian Super League (ISL) play-offs, as they finished with a 1-1 draw against FC Goa in a crucial encounter here Wednesday.
Fikru's 67th minute strike nullified a 27th minute goal from the visitors' Portuguese medio Edgar Marcelino at the Salt Lake stadium and set up a play-off double header between the two sides Dec 14 (Kolkata) and Dec 17 (Goa) to decide which team will enter the final.
The Goans finished second in the round robin league tallying 22 points from 14 matches, three more than Atletico.
Chennayin FC took the pole position, and would clash with fourth placed Kerala Blasters FC Dec 13 (Kochi) and Dec 16 (Chennai).
The final is slated for Dec 20.
The Goans played the last 22 minutes with ten men after their Portuguese medio Bruno Pinheiro was sent off for bringing down Fikru, resulting in the penalty that produced the equaliser.
The first half of the game lacked the usual pace, and was all about possession, but Atletico were frequent with their attacks.
ATK forward Baljit Sahni had a couple of early chances, but muffed them up.
In the fourth minute, faced with a sharp tackle from the visitors' French defender Youness Bengelloun, Sahni's tame shot rolled into the hands of rival custodian Laxmikant Kattimani. A little later, Sahni's shot fizzed past the goal.
When all attacks were being staged in the Goan half, Portuguese midfielder Edgar Marcelino put the tourists ahead in the 27th minute. A shot from Nigerian striker Ranti Martins rebounded off ATK medio Borja Fernandez and Marcelino finished off the move with a stunning volley.
Atletico launched a series of raids, but FC Goa defended well, with Bengelloun and Debabrata Roy marshalling the rearguard well in tandem.
After the breather, Atletico coach Antonio Lopez Habas brought on his marquee player Luis Garcia and that was quite the inspiration the home side needed as the pace and potency of their attacks increased.
Just after the hour mark, ATK's leading striker Ethiopian Fikru's rasping volley was denied by the goalpost. On the 68th minute mark, the home side finally got a reward for their continuous attacks when Fikru was brought down in the box by Pinheiro.
The Portuguese was sent off and Fikru stepped up to the spot and scored, sending goalkeeper Kattimani the wrong way.
After the home team's equaliser, attacks flowed at both ends, as both teams went in search of the winner.
The best chance for the game-clinching goal again came to Fikru, who failed to unleash a powerpacked shot after being fed by Czech medio Jakub Podany. The feeble effort landed in the safe hands of Kattimani.