Bengaluru FC’s attempt to stabalise a stuttering season hit yet another hurdle when Simon Grayson’s men went down 3-2 to Kerala Blasters at the JN Stadium, in Kochi, on Sunday.
The Blues, who took the lead through Sunil Chettri’s first goal (14’) of the season, found themselves pegged back through goals from Marko Leskovic (25’), Dimitrios Diamantakos (43’) and substitute Apostolos Giannou (70’). Javi Hernandez scored (81’) late to spark a possible revival, but Kerala held firm to keep all points on the night.
Grayson named the same eleven who started against ATK at the Kanteerava last weekend, with new signing Pablo Perez finding a place on the bench. Brazilian midfielder Bruno Ramires - nursing a niggle - didn’t make the trip to Kochi.
The game’s first big moment fell Bengaluru’s way when referee Jamal Mohamed pointed to the spot after Chhetri - through on goal - went down after contact from Prabhsukhan Gill in goal. The Blues’ skipper stepped up and hit his take firm, low and beyond Gill to give Grayson’s men the lead.
The hosts found their way back into the game when Leskovic bundled home a ball that Kerala managed to recycle after an Adrian Luna freekick came off the post. The Bengaluru defence should have done better in dealing with the ball, and were punished by a Kerala side that had been pushing for an equaliser.
Blasters then grabbed the lead just before half time when Diamantakos finished a swift move from a tight angle at the near post after meeting Luna’s low cross from the left, as Ivan Vukomanovic’s side went into the tunnel with an advantage.
Grayson made a change to begin the second half with, introducing Parag Shrivas for Prabir Das, and switching to a back three in the process. The move turned the tide in Bengaluru’s favour as they found themselves with more possession.
Sensing the need to wrest back control, Vukomanovic made a change of his own, replacing Ivan Kaliuzhnyi with Apostolos Giannou. The Australian took only two minutes to impact the game when he scored Kerala’s third on the night after squeezing in a finish from a narrow angle from a Diamantakos pass through the white Bengaluru shirts.
Needing to throw everything at Kerala, Grayson rang in a triple change that included Sivasakthi Narayanan and Perez. And just when it looked like Bengaluru didn’t have much in the tank to respond, Javi Hernandez turned up with a sweetly struck left-footed volley to make it 3-2, with ten minutes still left to play for. But Kerala kept things tight at the back, seeing the game out to give them their fifth win on the spin.
The Blues return to the Kanteerava next, where they face Jamshedpur FC on Saturday, December 17th.
Bengaluru FC Media Release