The tactician spoke following his team’s surprise defeat to NorthEast United.

ATK Mohun Bagan failed in the opportunity to move closer to Mumbai City at the top of the Indian Super League (ISL) table, falling to a 1-2 loss to NorthEast United on Tuesday. Antonio Habas and his Mariners went behind to a controversial goal from Paulo Machado, before Roy Krishna leveled things up.

However, a brilliant strike from Federico Gallego in the 81st minute sealed an important win to help NorthEast climb closer to the playoffs spot. Despite suffering their second loss in four games, Habas rubbished allegations of inconsistency within his squad and said, “No inconsistency at all. I think the score today is thanks to the referee. The decision for gifting the first goal to NorthEast was made by the referee. After that, it’s a completely different match. I have to congratulate my players for the performance.

“Maybe, in the first 45 minutes we were better than opponent, but couldn’t score goals. After that it was the same, but then the referee marked their goal. It wasn’t conceding like that when the linesman has his flag up. I don’t understand this. We don’t have any problems with the refereeing all season, but I don’t understand this,” he also added.

When asked about whether his side should’ve done better to get something out of the game after conceding that controversial first goal, Antonio Habas said, “But, it’s different because it changes the complexion of the game. We had to make substitutes at half-time according to the game and because of (David) Williams’ injury.

Watch: Antonio Habas speaks in the post-match press conference

“Situations are different in football. If the decisions of the referees change the match, it’s very difficult for us. Sometimes, it’s okay when refereeing decisions aren’t good, but when the opponent wins 2-1 because of that kind of an illegal first goal, that isn’t fair.”

But, Antonio Habas did admit his side weren’t good enough in the second half and also praised his opposition, saying, “I think we didn’t have a lot of chances in the second half. I think we attack well, but can’t create chances to score goals. NorthEast had good players in central midfield and in attack. Machado and Gallego are both good players. They had chances and scored goals. That’s how you win matches.”

This loss means that ATKMB are now six points behind league leaders Mumbai City and speaking about how this could impact their dreams of a summit finish, the Spaniard explained, “We are a good team with the same idea and same philosophy.

“If we lost a match, it doesn’t mean we lost the league. There is a possibility to continue onto the first spot. I feel we need more respect from the referees because we’ve only received one penalty all season. Other teams have 5-6 penalties thanks to which they have won. So, I don’t understand this.”

Roy Krishna broke a mini goal drought with his clever strike and when asked about how this could improve his confidence, Habas said, “Roy is a good player for us. A player scores one day and not on another. It’s not possible to score every day. I’m very confident in his ability and have my utmost support with him.”

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