Chhetri double strike saves Bengaluru from defeat

Sunil Chhetri struck twice as Bengaluru FC rallied to hold Sporting Clube de Goa to a 2-2 draw in an 11th round I-League match at Nehru Stadium here today.

Bengaluru FC midfielder Siam Hanghal attempts to dispossessSporting Clube de Goa's Mahmoud Al Amna.   -  Shreedutta Chidananda

Sunil Chhetri struck twice as Bengaluru FC rallied to hold Sporting Clube de Goa to a 2-2 draw in an 11th round I-League match at Nehru Stadium here today.

The draw put Bengaluru FC level on points with Mohun Bagan with 22 points at the top but it stays in second place on account of an inferior goal difference.

Sporting, who was leading 2-1 at half time through goals from Marcus Mascarenhas (18th) and Odafe Okolie (38th), was reduced to 10 men at the stroke of first half after a sudden a rush of blood by defender Loveday leading to his second yellow card and eventual dismissal for a dangerous foul on Udanta Singh.

Earlier, he got his first yellow card for brining down Johnson inside the box and Sporting conceded a penalty from which Chettri scored.

Sporting, who registered its second successive draw, remained in fourth place with 14 points from 11 matches.

Sporting showed its intent to hold its fort and attack on the counter and it had an early chance in the eighth minute when Marcus Mascarenhas’ cross from the right saw Seriton Fernandes taking a shot from inside the box but it was cleared off the goal-line by defender Rino Anto.

Bengaluru conceded a soft goal against the run of play following a defensive lapse as Lalchuanmawia tried to backpass the ball to his keeper Ralte but Marcus Mascarenhas charged at the ball. Ralte tried to clear the ball to safety but in his haste he shot straight to Marcus and the ball went into the net in the 18th minute.

Odafe Okolie, who was quiet for most part of the first half, then increased the lead in the 40th minute. Mahmoud Al Amna relayed the ball to Glan Martins who, in turn, squared the ball to Okolie and the wily striker skipped past a rival player and from the top of the box took a shot that found the far corner of the net.

The visitor retaliated and four minutes later earned a penalty after defender Loveday brought down Johnson inside the box and referee pointed to the penalty spot. Chhetri made no mistake from the spot, beating keeper Arindam Bhattacharya to his right.

Loveday then got his second yellow card for a dangerous foul on Kumam Udanta Singh and Sporting had to play the entire second half with ten men.

Bengaluru tried to take the advantage of the numerical superiority and Chhetri once again scored in the 67th minute to restore parity.