Bengaluru FC ended their eight-game winless run with a 2-0 defeat of SC East Bengal at the Tilak Maidan, in Goa, on Tuesday. The win, their first of the calendar year, also marked Naushad Moosa’s first victory as the Blues’ Interim Head Coach. Cleiton Silva found the back of the net before Debjit Majumder's own goal gave the Blues a 2-0 lead heading into the break. The Blues showed resolve to hold on to the lead at the Maidan this time, with the points sending them to sixth place on the League table, three behind FC Goa, who occupy the final playoff spot.
Moosa made two changes to the side that drew against Hyderabad FC. Juan Gonzalez and Erik Paartalu missed out with injury and suspension respectively, and replacing the duo were Pratik Chaudhari and Ajith Kumar. Robbie Fowler, meanwhile, rang in five changes to his SC East Bengal side that drew with FC Goa as Matti Steinmann, Ankit Mukherjee, Wahengbam Luwang, Aaron Joshua Holloway and Harmanpreet Singh came in to replace Rana Gharami, Mohammed Rafique, Jacques Maghoma, Anthony Pilkington and Jeje Lalpekhlua.
The Blues started the game on the front foot, with the first attack coming with just three minutes on the clock. Udanta Singh played Sunil Chhetri through on the right wing, and the skipper's cross was met by Leon Augustine but the youngster's diving effort sailed over the bar. At the other end, Ajith Kumar’s last-ditch tackle on Harmanpreet Singh stopped the striker from getting to the end of Bright Enobakhare's low cross, preventing East Bengal from taking an early lead.
Danny Fox, having made a crucial interception in the 9th minute to deny Cleiton Silva from getting to a long ball, could do nothing to prevent the Brazilian from getting on the scoreboard three minutes later. Chhetri outjumped Scott Neville to meet Gurpreet Singh Sandhu's free-kick, heading the ball down to Cleiton and the Brazilian set himself up with his first touch to smash it home on the volley.
Bengaluru were forced into a change just before half time, as Leon Augustine was replaced by Parag Shrivas. The youngster made an immediate impact on the game, as his effort from a Rahul Bheke cross bounced back into play off the upright and ricocheted back into goal off Debjit Majumder's leg to give the Blues a deserved 2-0 lead going into the break.
Looking for a way back into the game, Fowler made two half time substitutions with three more coming in the next 25 minutes. Helped by fresh legs on the pitch, East Bengal tried their best to break open the Blues defence but came up short on the night. Bengaluru had a chance to make it three on the night when Chhetri capitalized on a defensive lapse from Rana Gharami to unleash a volley from distance, but the effort came crashing back into play off the crossbar.
The win sees Bengaluru pick up three points for the first time under Moosa and stay alive in the race for a playoff spot. The Blues next face Chennaiyin FC, at the Fatorda, on February 5.
BFC Media Release