KOLKATA: Bengaluru FC’s winning run in the Hero I-League 2016-17 got a major jolt today having received a 1-2 defeat at the Barasat Stadium in Kolkata in front of a 15,000-strong crowd. CK Vineeth opened the scoreline for the Blues in the 23rd minute only to swallow two blows from the home team in either of the halves by Evan Bukenya (28′) and super-sub Robin Singh (80′).
Defending champions Bengaluru FC, have started as they would have done against their arch-rivals Kingfisher East Bengal and the homies preferred to have a cautious start ahead of a mammoth crowd, clad in Red & Golds.
Trevor Morgan opted to hand Amirov his first start in the crucial tie along with Plaza who has already found the net for the Red & Golds in the second game week.
The Home team came very close to open the scoring in the 20th minute when Nikhil Poojari broke into from the right flank, unleashing the ball to an onrushing Plaza but the striker was caught in the offside trap.
CK Vineeth, the Keralite striker, who is still basking in the glory of scoring his first hat-trick for the Blues in the last match, rattled the back of the net from a cutting-edge pass by Eugeneson Lyngdoh in the 23rd minute, leaving the 15,000-odd crowd spellbound.
Bengaluru FC’s joy was short lived as the Red & Golds drew a parity on the scoreline five minutes later from a brilliantly worked out corner which was finally converted by the Ugandan defender Ivan Bukenya.
The pitch got heated up following up a tackle by Mehtab Hossain on Sunil Chhetri, but the referee handled it with utmost proficiency to calm them down. Albeit, he had to flash the yellow card to both of the veterans, the game continued without any further disruption.
Red & Golds almost got the edge over the Blues on 40 minutes, when Plaza caught both the central defenders Juanan and Johnson, who were maintaining a high line, but eventually, his frail shot was collected comfortably by Amrinder Singh, Bengaluru FC goalie who was hardly tested in the season so far.
The away team also had their share of wasting an opportunity when Eugeneson Lyngdoh couldn’t bury it home after Rehenesh mistimed the grabbing, following which Sunil also got the opportunity to slot it but Bukenya locked it till then.
The teams went into the breather on 1-1 level pegging.
After the sojourn, Trevor Morgan played his ace Robin Singh withdrawing Ildar Amirov to overpower the lanky Bengaluru FC defence.
At the stroke of the hour mark, Mehtab Hossain darted a flashy long ball for Nikhil Poojari, who was left unmarked by the defenders, but he jammed it onto Amrinder, wasting a fine opportunity to put his team in the driver’s seat.
Kingfisher East Bengal wasted another chance to etch his name on the scoresheet, even after catching the Bengaluru FC defenders napping. The attacker outsmarted the defenders but his second touch was too heavy and eventually, Amrinder grabbed it to avert the danger.
two minutes later, Nikhil Poojari generated great acceleration down the right flank but the attacking move went abegging.
Bengaluru FC were living dangerously as Robin Singh, the veteran from many a battle for both the outfits, hit the crossbar from 30-yards out.
As the roar upsurged in the support of the homies, the home team created a plethora of chances in the second half. In the following minute, Robin Singh outran Sena Ralte to deliver a long ball to Plaza who misjudged the height of the ball to let the opportunity go.
Finally, the Red & Golds could get their nose at the front when Robin Singh, running on his own, slotted it past hapless Amrinder to send the crowd into a delirium.
Roca introduced Norales, Daniel at the later stage of the game, but the Red & Golds defenders kept them at bay.
In the last minute of the regulation time, Wedson went full cry in his quest for sealing the tie but Amrinder’s finger-tip save left him lamenting.
Plaza got another opportunity to get on the scoresheet in the last minute but the Haitian striker failed to make a substantial contact to nail the final one in the Bengaluru FC coffin.
With the win, Kingfisher East Bengal leapfrogs the reigning champions to the second spot with 10 points from 4 matches, two points shy of the arch-rivals Mohun Bagan.