Bengaluru FC rides on Semboi strike to beat Paro FC in AFC Cup qualifier

Thongkhosiem Haokip strike powered Bengaluru FC to a 1-0 win over Paro FC in their AFC Cup preliminary stage clash on Wednesday.

Thimphu, Bhutan

Action from the AFC Cup qualifying game between Bengaluru FC and Paro FC.   -  Special Arrangement

Bengaluru FC rode on Thongkhosiem Haokip’s second-half strike to earn a 1-0 win over Paro FC in their AFC Cup qualifying clash at the Changlimithang Stadium on Wednesday.

Carles Cuadrat made numerous changes to his side, handing out debuts to new signing Nili Perdomo and BFC B graduate Naorem Roshan Singh.

The match came to life after a quarter of an hour when winger Kean Lewis found himself in space in the box, only to see his effort blocked away and a shot on the rebound go wide of the mark. Moments later, Juanan Gonzalez whipped a free-kick on target but Paro goalkeeper Tobgay tipped it over the bar.

Semboi had his first chance when he, after playing a give-and-go with Roshan, found himself in space to take a shot, but the striker’s effort failed to trouble the Paro custodian. The Bengaluru defence saw away Paro’s forays and looked for the opening goal, but failed to add a finishing touch as both sides went into the break with the scores unchanged.

Bengaluru began the second half with a bang as Cuadrat's men took just eight minutes to break the deadlock. Attacking on the counter, Perdomo found Roshan outside the box, and the debutant took a touch before laying an inch-perfect pass for Semboi to latch onto. With a tight angle and an onrushing ‘keeper to beat, the striker slipped his effort beyond Tobgay to put Bengaluru ahead.

Cuadrat made the first of his changes, bringing on Sunil Chhetri to replace Roshan just past the hour mark. Semboi had a chance to double his tally and the Blues’ lead soon after, but his shot from Perdomo’s pass was saved by Tobgay once again.

Midfielders Suresh Wangjam and Kean were then replaced by Sairuat Kima and another BFC B graduate, Biswa Darjee in the final stages. Paro’s attack, spearheaded by former Bengaluru winger Chencho Gyeltshen, was kept at bay for most parts of the game and the Blues saw out the slender advantage.

The two sides will clash again for the reverse fixture at the Kanteerava Stadium on February 12.

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