Bengaluru FC turned up the style and stretched their dominance over Kerala Blasters, beating their rivals from the South 4-2 at the Fatorda Stadium, in Goa, on Sunday.
Kerala went ahead through an early Rahul KP goal, before Cleiton Silva made sure that Bengaluru ended the half on equal terms. The Blues then switched gears soon after the restart and scored twice in three minutes through Erik Paartalu and Dimas Delgado. The topsy-turvy clash saw Kerala come right back into the contest when Jordan Murray scored to make it 3-2. But skipper Sunil Chhetri, who saw a penalty saved, rose to head home a peach of a finish to put the game beyond debate.
Carles Cuadrat made two changes to the Blues team that started against NorthEast United earlier this week. Kristian Opseth replaced Deshorn Brown in attack, while Pratik Chaudhari made his full debut with Rahul Bheke sitting the game out with a niggle. Cuadrat’s counterpart Kibu Vicuna rang in as many as four changes - Lalruthhara, Prasanth Karuthadathkuni, Facundo Pereyra and Jordan Murray replacing Jessel Carnerio, Rohit Kumar, Nongdamba Naorem and the suspended Costa Nhamoinesu.
The Blasters took the lead in the 17th minute, counter-attacking from Dimas Delgado's set piece. Gary Hooper ran the length of the pitch and played in Rahul KP at the edge of the box, who managed to squeeze the ball low past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and into the goal.
It took little more than ten minutes for the Blues to find the equaliser. Gurpreet's punt into Blasters half bounced past Opseth, and Lalruatthara, looking to clear the ball, sliced it instead. At the right place and at the right time, Silva hit the ball on the volley, with the outside of his boot, past Albino Gomes to make 1-1.
Bengaluru had a big chance to go ahead soon after the restart when Kone hauled down Opseth and referee Crystal John pointed to the spot. But Sunil Chhetri, who has a tremendous record with penalties, attempted a panenka that sailed straight into the hands of Albino who didn’t commit.
But Bengaluru didn’t let the regret bog them down and turned up with two quickfire goals in a span of three minutes. In the 51st minute, Silva found Ashique down the left and the latter’s low cross into the box was slotted home by Opseth to put the Blues in the lead for the first time on the night. The goal would later be awarded to Erik Paartalu, who was deemed to have got the final touch on the ball.
Just two minutes later the Blues added another to the scoreboard. Silva stole the ball off Lalruatthara at the edge of the box and cut back into the box for Opseth, who let the ball roll past him for Dimas Delgado to finish past a rooted Albino to give the Blues a two goal cushion.
The Blasters would cut the deficit in the 61st minute from a set-piece, where Pereyra's take was nodded down by Vicente Gomez for Jordan Murray to finish. The decision to award the goal to the Australian proved a dubious one, as replays showed the Blasters striker in an offside position.
The Blues continued to stay on the offensive and were rewarded for their resolve in the 65th minute when Chhetri made amends. Harmanjot Khabra spotted the skipper in the area and whipped in a cross from the right, and Chhetri outjumped Prasanth to send the ball past a hapless Albino in the Blasters goal.
Cuadrat introduced Brown and Wungngayam Muirang in the closing stages of the game, with the latter making his debut, as the Blues saw out the final minutes to take all three points and go fourth in the League table.
The Blues take on Odisha FC in their next game at the GMC Bambolim stadium, in Bambolim, on 17th December
BFC Media Release