Feisty Chennai City shares the spoil with Bengaluru FC

The visiting team, enjoying the lion’s share of possession, created inroads in the opposition half, but Chennai City was comfortable in absorbing the pressure to hold the defending champion to a 1-1 draw.

Charles De Souza (right) of Chennai City FC and John James Johnson of Bengaluru Football Club in action on Wednesday.   -  M. Vedhan

Chennai City FC showed enough spirit to hold Bengaluru FC, the defending champion, to a 1-1 draw at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Wednesday. The visiting team, enjoying the lion’s share of possession, created inroads in the opposition half, but Chennai City was comfortable in absorbing the pressure.

As expected, the home side’s compact formation forced BFC to spread the game to the flanks, but it still failed to make very few inroads. The home side’s game plan was to attack on the counter with the quick Charles de Souza leading the line.

BFC, preferring a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Sunil Chhetri and Daniel Lalhlimpuia taking turns to lead the line, banked on the hard work of Mandar Rao Dessai and Udanta Singh, both working tirelessly on the flanks. The first half, however, failed to produce any goals.

Chennai City slowly started to find its feet in the second session and went ahead in the 54th minute, with luck playing its part. After winning the ball in the middle of the park, Zakeer Mundampara found Soosai Raj on the right flank. Raj whipped in a delicious cross and BFC’s John Johnson, much to the dismay of his team-mates, headed the ball past his own goalkeeper.

Bengaluru stepped up its attack and was rewarded within four minutes, with Daniel restoring parity. A neat interchange of play between Chhetri and Udanta saw the latter in space on the right side of the penalty box, and Udanta’s pass could only be parried away by Karanjit Singh. Daniel, lurking in the box, scored from six yards out.

The defending champion continued its assault on Chennai’s goal as the host continued to defend deep. The home team had a nervy moment, well into injury time, when a free-kick lobbed into the crowded box seemed to have struck Debabrata Roy’s arm. The referee, however, thought otherwise despite strong protests from the BFC players.

There was still time for the visitor to snatch all three points, but a goal-line clearance averted the danger in the dying minutes of the match.

Chennai (10 points) continues to occupy the ninth spot, while Bengaluru, on 17 points, remains fifth.

The result: Chennai City 1(John Johnson OG, 54') Bengaluru FC 1 (Daniel Lalhlimpuia, 58')

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