Bengaluru FC (BFC) whipped Aizawl FC (AFC) 5-0, but its hopes of clinching a AFC Cup inter-zone play-off semifinal berth hangs by a thread. Despite the easy three points gained at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Wednesday, BFC is likely to lose out to group-topper New Radiant in the race to enter the knockout round.
For BFC to advance, the side needs a victory over Abahani Dhaka (on May 16), and New Radiant needs to drop a couple of points against lowly AFC.
In front of a sparse 1,500-odd crowd, BFC simply ran over a listless AFC. Spaniard Daniel Segovia recorded a brace, while Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh and Daniel Lalhlimpuia scored a goal each. The home side dominated proceedings, relentlessly attacking the opponent from all corners of the field.
Chhetri opened the account in the 16th minute, when AFC goalkeeper Lalawmpuia stuck his hand out needlessly and brought down the striker. Chhetri slotted the resulting penalty into the side-netting. Just a minute later, Australian import Eric Paartalu slid a pass through to an unmarked Segovia in the box, who squared his shoulders and found the target at the far-post.
Paartalu helped set up BFC’s third as well, when he released Chhetri with a perfect lob from the half-line. Chhetri carried the ball deep into enemy territory, before generously passing it off to an unmarked Udanta. A simple poke was enough to put BFC 3-0 ahead at half-time. The second-half predictably went BFC’s way, with Segovia’s perfect header and Daniel Lalhlimpuia's late strike bringing more joy to the home fans.
For Aizawl, Ivory Coast forward Zikahi Dodoz threatened with powerful runs, but found little support from his teammates.
After the final whistle - in what is likely to be BFC's last home game of the season - BFC head coach Albert Roca received thunderous applause from the spectators. "We want you to stay, Albert Roca, we want you to stay," rang the chants. Roca's contract expires soon, and it remains to be seen if the Spaniard will extend his contract. "I don't want to comment on my future plans, but I can say that I'm very proud to be a part of the JSW family," Roca said.
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