Bengaluru edges past Mumbai FC

Substitute Daniel Lalhlimpuia slotted in his first goal of the season off a cut-back from C. K. Vineeth in the 81st minute. It came following a goalkeeping blunder from Pawan Kumar who missed what looked like a harmless scoop over the defence from Udanta Singh.

Bengaluru FC celebrates the only goal of the game.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Bengaluru FC earned a nervy, but crucial 1-0 win over bogey-team Mumbai FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Saturday.

Substitute Daniel Lalhlimpuia slotted in his first goal of the season off a cut-back from C. K. Vineeth in the 81st minute. It came following a goalkeeping blunder from Pawan Kumar who missed what looked like a harmless scoop over the defence from Udanta Singh.

The match ended with Mumbai coach Khaled Jamil refusing to shake hands with Bengaluru’s Ashley Westwood over a disagreement. But much of the match, unlike the last time, was played in fine spirit. With the win, Bengaluru pulled level with Mohun Bagan on 25 points with a game in hand, but is second only on inferior head-to-head record.

Right-centric attacks

Early on, much of Bengaluru’s attacks were from the right. Defender Rino Anto surged forward at will. In the returning Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Thoi Singh he found decent support. But only that the home side didn’t show enough creativity in the final third.

Twice Vineeth was picked out with inch-perfect long balls from the centre-backs. In under a minute forward Kim Song Yong and Thoi combined twice, creating a half-chance each for the other, only to be rebuffed on both occasions. Eugeneson even swung two dangerous free-kicks but the goalkeeper in Pawan was up to the task.

For Mumbai playmaker Eric Brown was assured on the ball and picked out neat passes. But whenever his team had the chance to build an attack, its players, inexplicably, chose long-range efforts which goalie Amrinder Singh didn’t even have to sniff.

The game opened up a tad in the second half. Taisuke Matsugae earned a free-kick for Mumbai right on the edge of the penalty area. But Brown hit it straight at the wall. Immediately after Matsugae toe-poked one wide.

But it was at the other end that the three best chances of the game fell in succession. First Seiminlen Doungel beat two men on the right and crossed for Vineeth, who sent his shot wide of the far post from a tight angle. Then Kim, Thoi and Vineeth combined only to be spurned again. The third went begging when Len missed from point-blank range after Vineeth had tried to place the ball into the far right corner.

“We had a decent game plan which was working,” said Westwood. “We were a bit wasteful in the final third. Daniel came on and scored. It’s a game we should have won. If we hadn’t we would have been kicking ourselves.”

The result: Bengaluru FC 1 (Daniel Lalhlimpuia 81) bt Mumbai FC 0