Atletico de Kolkata claimed a 3-0 victory over Mumbai City in the inaugural match of the Hero Indian Super League at Salt Lake Stadium.
While ex-Liverpool star Luis Garcia excelled, goals from Fikru Teferra, Borja Fernandez and Arnal Llibert separated the sides.
Atleti too strong
City have been tipped to challenge Kolkata this season but with Freddie Ljungberg and Nicolas Anelka absent, Atleti proved too strong on home turf.
Garcia’s significance to the Bengalese outfit was clear from the kick-off, as his early twinkle-toed shift worked space for Baljit Sahni to run beyond the defence and see his finish repelled by Subrata Paul.
The Spaniard then had a smash well blocked by the India custodian with the league still ten minutes young, and a notable contribution was to follow.
This time, Fikru was the runner and he was set away by the 36-year-old to coolly lift the ball over Subrata and into the corner before performing an acrobatic celebration.
At the other end, a pair of Mumbai drives caused little discomfort for Roy Chowdhury, and the hosts took their lead into the half-time break.
Brazilian playmaker Andre Moritz was quickly summoned from the bench, and he instantly made a positive impact as Peter Reid’s men enjoyed their best spell of the game.
With 20 minutes remaining, however, one-time Real Madrid midfielder Borja showed his class and seemingly sealed the three points. Profiting from a poor clearance out of the City defence, the former Spanish youth international controlled on his chest and arrowed a ferocious strike past the despairing Subrata.
The advantage could have been extended even further with more Garcia magic. Sahni was again the recipient of a gorgeous assist from his captain, but the goalkeeper stood tall to bat away a powerful header.
Chowdhury had to remain alert and made two smart stops as the clock ticked down. First pushing a deflected attempt over his cross-bar, the Kolkata native then plucked Manuel Friedrich’s nod from the air.
However, there was still time for Atleti to add a third and final goal, with Garcia’s replacement Llibert netting in stoppage time. Fikru beat the offside trap, raced away from the away back-line and squared for a simple tap-in.