I-League: Bengaluru FC frustrated at home

Defending champion Bengaluru FC was left to endure yet another frustrating night as it was held to a goalless draw by 10-man Mohun Bagan at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday.

From the outset, Bagan was happy to sit back and hit on the counter.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Defending champion Bengaluru FC was left to endure yet another frustrating night as it was held to a goalless draw by 10-man Mohun Bagan at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday.

After having played catch-up for much of the first half, BFC was handed a lifeline in the 70th minute when left-back Subhasish Bose was sent off for a second yellow. Yet, the Bagan defence, led by the impressive duo of Eduardo Soares and Anas Edathodika, thwarted every attack the home team could muster.

Bagan even had a headed goal by Katsumi Yusa disallowed five minutes from time, when the linesman deemed that goalie Arindam Bhattacharya was fouled.

The result left the two clubs' position unchanged in the table with Bagan third (23 points) and BFC fifth (18).

Absorbing pressure

From the outset, Bagan played to a set plan. It was happy to sit back and hit on the counter. It helped that its frontline comprising Darryl Duffy, Yusa and Sony Norde was full of pace, for they seemed just one long ball away from a charge at the goal.

Yusa in particular was splendid on the right flank, troubling Nishu Kumar throughout. One such occasion when Nishu couldn't keep up with Yusa, resulted in the best chance of the match. In the 28th minute, after Nishu fouled the Japanese, the latter delivered a first-rate ball from the set-piece only for Balwant Singh's header to be saved by Arindam from point-blank range.

After the half hour mark, Bagan by-passed the BFC midfield with alarming regularity. Pritam Kotal's drive from the edge of the area went just wide while Duffy had a shot saved.

Chhetri lone ranger

BFC tried, but the lack of creativity through the middle – in spite of the returning Eugeneson Lyndoh – hurt the side. Skipper Sunil Chhetri seemed to wage a lone battle but often cut a frustrating figure. Twice he tried a one-two with forward Daniel Lalhlimpuia but the return ball was off.

Albert Roca's outfit turned in a vastly improved performance in the second half. On 49 minutes Chhetri, after a fine chest down, seemed to have been fouled from behind when through on goal, but the referee waved on. There was some better combination play too, like when Chhetri hit the side-netting after a neat interplay with Daniel. Ultimately it was all to no avail.

“For a ten man team, its a good result,” said Bagan manager Sanjoy Sen. “But if you analyse the whole match, may be not.”

“There is always something [missing],” said Roca. “Some luck and some quality. In the end, it was a fair result.”

The result: Bengaluru FC 0 drew with Mohun Bagan 0.