Bengaluru FC a win away from title

Two second half goals from Kim Song Yong and Malsawmzuala in a space of seven minutes – in both of which East Bengal goalie T. P. Rehenesh dealt a helping hand – sealed the deal for the host after the first half had remained locked at 1-1.

Bengaluru FC players are over the moon after scoring against East Bengal.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Bengaluru FC is one win away from its second I-League title in three years following a resounding 3-1 win over East Bengal at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Sunday.

Two second half goals from Kim Song Yong and Malsawmzuala in a space of seven minutes – in both of which East Bengal goalie T. P. Rehenesh dealt a helping hand – sealed the deal for the host after the first half had remained locked at 1-1.

With the win, Bengaluru climbed to the top of the standings on 29 points, two clear of defending champions Mohun Bagan, and can clinch the title with a home win against Salgaocar next Sunday.

TITLE RACE NOT OVER YET: WESTWOOD

“No not really,” said Bengaluru FC coach Ashley Westwood when asked if the title was all but sealed. “Never done till it’s over. I have been one foot in the door in too many night-clubs and denied entry. But we haven't played better than this all season. We completely dominated them.”

North Korean Kim was magnificent, leading the line with aplomb. He seemed omnipresent, either while holding up play or while tracking back. An assist and a goal were his just rewards.

After seven minutes, he out-muscled centre-back Bernard Mendy and shot across the face of the goal.

Much of the initial action was confined to the East Bengal box. The home team moved the ball end to end with Eugeneson Lyngdoh at the centre of it all.

But on a couple of occasions when the ball travelled to the other end, forward Ranti Martins escaped his markers as Keegan Pereira, who replaced John Johnson at centre-back, and Curtis Osano had their awkward moments.

THE OPENING TITLE

The level of play gradually went up with both teams loosening up a bit. And it brought the opening goal in the 28th minute when Do Donghyun, after latching on to a loose first touch from Zuala near the centre of the pitch, made a darting run to finish past Amrinder Singh.

But the response from Bengaluru was immediate. On 30 minutes, Eugene charged into the box to head a Kim cross past Rehenesh. Less than 10 minutes later, Rehenesh had to push a towering header from Kim away, again courtesy a run from outside the penalty area.

At half-time the game was tantalisingly poised only for Bengaluru FC to turn it decisively in its favour with a two-goal burst after the restart. The first goal came when Kim headed in a Eugene corner -- resulting from a botched clearance by Rehenesh -- in the 64th minute . Seven minutes later, Rehenesh, in an attempt to push Zuala’s 30-yard hit above the bar, ended up pushing it into the net.

The result: Bengaluru FC 3 (Eugene 30, Kim 64, Zuala 70) bt East Bengal 1 (Dong 28)