THE VETERAN MAGICIAN Odafa Okolie brought down the walls of Bengaluru FC's Fortress for the first time this season as the Nigerian sniper struck twice, earning a heart-in-mouth 1-2 victory for a 10-man Sporting Clube de Goa.
Eager to get over their defeat to Shillong Lajong away from home, Sporting made three changes to their first eleven. Pratish Shirodkar, Rowlin Borges and Glan Martins got dropped, making way for Denson Devadas, Mahmoud Al Amenah and debutant Seriton Fernandes.
Bengaluru FC also made 3 changes of their own. Irish medio Michael Collins got a start along with CK Vineeth and Alwyn George, sending Malsawmzuala, Shankar Sampingraj and Seminlen Doungel to the bench.
Odafa Okolie had been waiting for a chance like this to prove himself for a long time. And very early on in the game he made it rain for the visitors. A defensive mistake allowed the veteran striker a clear look at the open net and he sent a long but powerful ball straight into it. Sporting Clube de Goa were leading 0-1 just 9 minutes in.
But things weren't going to be so easy for the Flaming Oranjes as Dharmaraj Ravanan picked up an early yellow card and followed it up with an elbowing act that sent Alwyn George tumbling and got Dharmaraj his marching orders. The visitors were down to 10 men and the clock was barely past 20 minutes.
Bengaluru tried to reply with a Rino Anto cross in for Kim Song-Yong but keeper Arindam Bhattacharya expertly collected it. When Kim got another cross from Lalchhuan Mawia, he shot it off target.
Early in the second half Bengaluru FC built some pressure on their numerically inferior opponent team. But Arindam Bhattacharya made two good saves from a Michael Collins corner and a Sunil Chhetri header. Bringing on Beingaichho instead of Thoi Singh helped as well. Soon Alwyn George had a good shot on goal that was out of Arindam's reach, but came off the woodwork.
It was clear that a goal was coming. And soon it happened. It was CK Vineeth who found the mark for the Blues. It was 1-1 just after the hour mark and the stadium raucously welcomed the equalizer.
But Odafa ruined it for them again. He sent in one of his hard kicks that Amrinder Singh could not reach inn time. 73 minutes in, Sporting Clube de Goa were leading again; this time 1-2.
Michael Collins came close to getting BFC back into the game. But his shot was just above the crossbar. They tried to put together a few attacks afterwards but SC Goa were now putting all bodies behind the ball to defend the lead and at long last, after 7 minutes of added time, they succeeded. Bengaluru FC suffered their first home defeat of the season.
This is BFC's second loss of the season and while with 12 points from 6 matches they are still sitting at the top of the table, losing at home to a side that mostly relies on one player to get them goals will come as a blow to them, especially ahead of hosting Mohun Bagan next Saturday.
As for Sporting Clube de Goa, they will hope this win signifies a turnaround for their campaign. Last season they fought hard to avoid relegation and they did not have a good start this time either. But beating Bengaluru FC at their own backyard is one of the toughest things to achieve in Indian football and it always means a lot. They are now up to the 5th place on the league table, with 7 points from 5 matches. They will hope that the spirit of this game carries over to Thursday when they host Salgaocar in the season's first Goa Derby.