A Sunil Chhetri goal (56’) gave Bengaluru FC a 1-0 win over Southern rivals Chennaiyin FC at the GMC Stadium, in Bambolim, on Friday, as Carles Cuadrat’s men put three points on the table for the first time this season. The goal was Chhetri’s sixth in seven games against Chennaiyin and was enough to send the Blues to fourth position on the table.
Sensing the need to mix things up, Cuadrat made three changes to the team that started against Hyderabad FC last weekend - one in each portion of the pitch. Rahul Bheke partnered Juan Gonzalez in defence ahead of Fran Gonzalez, while Dimas Delgado and Deshorn Brown started ahead of Udanta Singh and Kristian Opseth, as the Blues set out in a 4-3-3.
A game that regularly produces the goods was off to a feisty start, with both teams doing their best to assert their dominance early on. But it was Bengaluru who had more of a say in the proceedings, moving the ball around the wings and getting it into the box far too often for Chennaiyin’s liking.
In the 31st minute, Delgado took a short corner and played it to Cleiton Silva. The Brazilian cut past his marker only to see his shot nodded behind for another corner. This time, Cleiton chose to cross into the box, where an unmarked Bheke evaded his marker and headed the ball just wide of the post.
The Blues' first effort on target came in the 37th minute from Rahul Bheke's throw-in. The ball fell to Erik Paartalu in the centre of the box and the Australian guided it towards Juanan, whose header however, was easy pickings for Vishal Kaith.
Bengaluru began the second half with Opseth coming on for Brown, and the Blues soon had a good chance to go ahead when they won a free kick on the edge of the box, but they squandered it away with visible lack of cohesion. But before they could rue the missed opportunity, Bengaluru were handed another one, and they would make it count.
Prancing into the box, Cleiton was taken off his feet in the box by Edwin Vanspaul and the referee pointed to the spot. Chhetri made no mistake, slotting it into the bottom corner just beyond Vishal Kaith’s reach to put BFC in the lead in the 56th minute.
On the hour mark, the Blues had their best chance to double their lead. From a free kick taken short, Dimas' thumping strike was sailing in at the far post before Vishal Kaith got his fingertips to the ball to push it just beyond the frame of the goal.
While the Blues were looking to add to their lead, the home side caught BFC on the break in the 64th minute. Jerry's cross into the box found Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev, whose first-time volley was saved by Gurpreet at his near post.
Bengaluru rang in changes towards the end as Fran Gonzalez replaced Cleiton in the 82nd minute. The Blues then sent on Academy graduate Amay Morajkar, who came on in place of Suresh Wangjam, to make his debut for the club. Wangjam, who made his third appearance of the season, was later adjudged the Man of the Match.
Chennaiyin’s final chance of the game came right at the death when Sylvestr found himself in space inside the box. However, the Slovakian’s effort was parried away by the able hands of Gurpreet once again, as the Blues saw away the final minutes to seal the win.
Bengaluru have three days to recover before they host NorthEast United FC next in a home fixture at the Fatorda on Tuesday.
Bengaluru FC Media Release