AFC Cup: Nishu, Jugovic score in BFC victory

While goals from Nishu Kumar and substitute Marjan Jugovic in either half ensured that BFC maintained its lead atop Group E, the modest scoreline belied the kind of dominance the home side had established.

Nishu Kumar, who scored first goal for Bengaluru FC against Abahani Dhaka FC, in action at Sri Kanteerava outdoor in Bengaluru.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Bengaluru FC made it three wins out of three in the AFC Cup with a 2-0 defeat of Abahani Dhaka at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Tuesday.

While goals from Nishu Kumar and substitute Marjan Jugovic in either half ensured that BFC maintained its lead atop Group E, the modest scoreline belied the kind of dominance the home side had established.

From the first minute it appeared a no contest. Twice early on, Eugeneson Lyngdoh found himself in space just outside the penalty area even as he decided not to shoot. It was perhaps the sign of things to come as the attacking trio of Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Sunil Chhetri – playing through the middle – and Len Doungel ran amok in the final third.

Nishu Kumar routinely bombed forward from the left wing back position. So high was BFC pressing that in the 11th minute, defender Juanan won the ball on the left flank, dribbled past a player and swung an inch perfect cross only for Len to head the ball over from point-blank range.

On 25 minutes, a botched Lenny Rodrigues back pass forced BFC goalie Lalthuammawia Ralte to come off his line to deny Mohammad Ziban. It was the closest the visiting side would come to scoring as normal service soon resumed. BFC's reward arrived not long after that. In the 40th minute, Nishu converted a fine through ball from Daniel into the left bottom corner for his first goal for the club.

The second half resembled the first almost in its entirety – complete control by BFC but not enough goals to show. Chhetri, central to most things, often cut a frustrating figure. Near the hour mark, he sent right wing back Harmanjhot Khabra in with a delightful through ball but the latter fluffed the chance. The skipper then took everything on himself with a darting run towards the goal only for his shot to be cleared off the line. One more chance went begging when Juanan's square ball across the goal evaded everyone.

The strike to double the lead came in the 82nd minute, when Jugovic volleyed home a Lyngdoh pass from close range. For a second or two even that was in doubt, for the ball, after crashing against the bar, seemed to have bounced just in front of the goal line. But when the linesman deemed it otherwise, the sense of relief was palpable.

The result: Bengaluru FC 2 (Nishu Kumar 40, Marjan Jugovic 82) bt Abahani Dhaka 0.

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