I-League: Bengaluru beats Shillong 3-0 in its opening match

The young Udanta Singh scored a brace before Lalhmangaihsanga Ralte's stunning long-range effort led the defending champion to a 3-0 win over Shillong Lajong in its opening encounter of the I-League on Saturday.

Bengaluru FC's Kumam Udanta Singh celebrates his second goal against Shillong Lajong in its opening I-League match.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Udanta Singh offered yet another glimpse of his vast potential as Bengaluru F.C. began its I-League campaign on a rousing note at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Saturday.

The young attacker scored a brace before Lalhmangaihsanga Ralte's stunning long-range effort led the defending champion to a 3-0 win over Shillong Lajong.

It is clear Bengaluru holds Udanta in high regard, and the 20-year-old did not disappoint on the night, breaking the deadlock in the first half and later sealing the outcome with a tidy finish.

"He did a very good job today," the Bengaluru head coach Albert Roca said later. "We need players who can run [at defenders]. He showed he can do that; he can go deep. He's young; he can be a good player for the National team as well."

In the opening minutes, though, the home team struggled to impose its will on the game. The lack of total cohesion was perhaps understandable; injuries had forced Albert Roca to field two new full-backs while a third signing, Lenny Rodrigues, occupied central midfield.

Lajong defended stoutly as Bengaluru tried and failed to get behind the defence. That resistance was broken, however, on 26 minutes. A Bengaluru corner was headed out before Daniel Lalhlimpuia -- who has to grab his opportunities this season -- swung a cross in from the left.

Vishal Kaith, the goalkeeper, rushed out and flapped helplessly as a scramble ensued inside the box. Udanta pounced on the loose ball and scored.

After the goal, Bengaluru breached the Lajong defence with increasing regularity. Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who played as a number 10 on the night, missed from point blank range before Sunil Chhetri drilled the rebound into the post. Lyngdoh could have scored another as Bengaluru went into the break perhaps a little frustrated.

On the other side of the interval, though, Roca's men played with an increased fluency. A shot from Chhetri whistled wide of the post and a second goal appeared around the corner.

Udanta duly scored, controlling a fine ball over the top from Lyngdoh before driving in from the right and finishing with his left. Ralte, who had impressed at left-back all evening, capped off his excellent debut with a corker from 30 yards.

The result: Bengaluru F.C. 3 (Udanta Singh Kumam 26, 68, Lalhmangaihsanga Ralte 79) bt Shillong Lajong 0.

  Dugout videos