Bengaluru qualifies for AFC Cup group stages with 5-0 rout

Forward Antonio Dovale was at the treble as Bengaluru FC joined Indian club Aizawl FC in the AFC Cup 2018 group stages with a 5-0 win.

Bengaluru FC's Antonio Dovale vs TC Sports Club

Antonio Dovale (18) became the second player in Bengaluru FC's history to score a hat-trick.   -  K. Murali Kumar

It was a stroll in the park for Bengaluru FC as it thumped TC Sports Club 5-0 in the second leg of its AFC Cup qualifying play-off tie at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Tuesday.

Sunil Chhetri, Dimas Delgado and Juanan Gonzalez were all benched, but their side didn't miss them one bit, as Antonio Dovale – one of only two foreigners on the pitch for BFC – starred with a hat-trick, only the second-ever at the club after C. K. Vineeth's in 2017.

The 8-2 aggregate win secured a place in the AFC Cup group stage where BFC will join Aizawl FC, New Radiant and Abahani Limited Dhaka in Group E.

The result, it seemed, was never in question. The opening goal in the 12th minute – a superbly placed shot from 20 yards out by Dovale – effectively killed the tie, for, coupled with the three away goals, it required the opponent to score at least thrice. The pedestrian outfit TC Sports Club proved to be, there was little chance of that happening.

Dovale doubled the lead in the 35th minute with a close-range volley after Erik Paartalu headed the ball onto his path. A minute later, Paartalu scored the goal of the night – a stunning left-footer into the top right corner from just in front of the centre circle – which he later described as “one in a million.”

Spaniard Dovale completed his hat-trick just after the restart. Semboi Haokip won a brilliant header in the middle of the pitch after which the supremely-quick Udanta Singh carried the ball and played a neat cut-back for an easy tap in.

Much of the second half was for fun. It didn't help that TC Sports Club played the last half an hour with ten men after Alaaeldin Nasr Elmagraby was sent off for a second yellow card. On any other day, Semboi – the star of the first leg – could have easily had a hat-trick of his own, but for goalie Ibrahim Nadheem, who partially redeemed himself after a nightmarish first half.

That BFC didn't score again till late seemed a surprise. But when Zotea Ralte struck the bar with just minutes left, all it did was to elicit was a chuckle from Albert Roca on the touchline. It was that kind of an evening.

The result: Bengaluru FC 5 (Dovale 12', 35', 48', Paartalu 36', Bheke 89') bt TC Sports Club 0 [Aggregate 8-2].

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