AFC Cup: Bengaluru FC off to a losing start

As close as the scoreline looks, the three away goals will surely make BFC's task tough ahead of the second leg in exactly a week's time.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, let in two shots which he would have saved on most days. (File Photo)   -  K. Murali Kumar

Carles Cuadrat's reign as head coach of Bengaluru FC (BFC) was off to a losing start, with a 3-2 defeat to Turkmenistan’s Altyn Asyr FK in the first leg of the AFC Cup inter-zonal semifinal at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday.

As close as the scoreline looks, the three away goals will surely make BFC's task tough ahead of the second leg in exactly a week's time.

It could have been much worse though, down 3-0 as it was midway through the match before Rahul Bheke, near the hour mark, and Erik Paartalu, two minutes from time, pulled things back.

For BFC, the manner in which it conceded will rankle for long, especially for Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who let in two shots which he would have saved on most days.

The home faithful were silenced as early as in the 11th minute when forward Orazsahedov Vahyt put the visitors ahead.

It was a proper training ground routine that BFC fell for. After an initial headed clearance by Nishu Kumar, the ball fell for Selim Nurmyradov on the right whose fine chipped pass was turned in by the unmarked Vahyt at the far post.

BFC tried to hit back immediately. From a swift counter-attack, Udanta Singh, after receiving the ball from Miku, outran his marker on the right flank but his cut-back found no one.

Moments later, Miku's excellent overhead pass found Sunil Chhetri but the latter's shot was expertly saved by  goalie Orazmuhamedov with his outstretched left leg.

It didn't help that Spanish debutant Xisco Hernandez and Paartalu, the offensive and defensive reference points in the midfield respectively, were inivisble for large tracts of the game.

Annadurdyyev had a free run for the second goal, sneaking in the ball at Gurpreet's near post from an acute angle. He could have a second within seconds, but his clever dink over an onrushing Gurpreet went inches wide.

Altyn Asyr nearly put the tie to bed a minute after the restart when Vahyt forced another error from Gurpreet, this time the India international failing to fend off the ball after getting his hands to it.

But in the last half hour, BFC drove ahead with purpose. Bheke smashed home from close range after Chhetri had hit the post before Paartalu, playing as target man, headed in the second to give his team a glimmer of hope.

The result: Altyn Asyr FC 3 (Vahyt 11, 46, Annadurdyyev 25) bt Bengaluru FC 2 (Rahul Bheke 63, Paartalu 88)