Durand Cup 2021: FC Bengaluru United downs Indian Air Force to reach quarters

Manzi and Gopi Singh scored a double each to put FCBU ahead as it became the first team in this year's tournament to enter the playoffs.

Arun Kumar (Centre) in action for FC Bengaluru United as his side knocked out Indian Air Force 4-2 at at Kalyani Stadium.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

C Bengaluru United (FCBU) downed Indian Air Force with a convincing 4-2 scoreline in a preliminary leg group-A match at the Kalyani Stadium on Thursday, to become the first team to make it to the knockout stage of the Durand Cup football. 

Spanish forward Pedro Manzi played a key role as he found the target twice and set up Yumnam Gopi Singh to score the other two, to help FCBU secure its second consecutive win and collect enough points to secure a place in the quarterfinals. Indian Air Force produced both its replies through captain Vivek Kumar.

Bengaluru United, which had beaten CRPF by a solitary goal in the opening group league match, went ahead in the 21st minute when Manzi found the net from a penalty. 

The Bengaluru side doubled the lead in the 28th minute when Gopi Singh made the most of a Manzi assist to score. Three minutes before the break, Vivek got one back for the Airmen and then nodded home the equaliser from a corner in the 52nd minute to put Bengaluru United under pressure.

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Vivek had a few chances to take the Airmen in the lead but missed the opportunities. On the other hand, the Manzi-Gopi combination came good once again for FCBU, which regained the lead in the 72nd minute. The Spaniard made it 4-2 in stoppage time to make the FCBU win look convincing.

In a match between the two regimental teams, Army Red proved its superiority by downing Assam Rifles 4-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium and started its campaign in group D on a convincing note.

The results:

Group A: Indian Air Force 2 (Vivek 42, 52) lost to FC Bengaluru United 4 (Pedro Manzi 21-pen, 90+1, Yumnam Gopi Singh 28, 72)

Group D: Assam Rifles 1 (Samujal Rabha 41) lost to Army 4 (Liton Shil 39, Bikash Thapa 66, Sushil Shah 75-pen, Suresh Meitei 82).

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