Debutant Roby Norales and C. K. Vineeth came off the bench to lead Bengaluru FC (BFC) to a nervy 2-0 victory over Chennai City FC (CCFC) in a Hero I-League match at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Saturday.
The Honduran forward scored the opener in the 77th minute from a goal-mouth scramble after CCFC failed to deal with a BFC set-piece. Vineeth’s strike to double the lead came within two minutes, off a neat cut-back by Udanta Singh.
The goals though were preceded by a frustrating period for the home team. It was repeatedly thwarted by a Chennai side for which caution seemed to be the watch-word.
It was particularly stark in the first half. As early as in the fifth minute, Sunil Chhetri was denied from an Udanta pass which was a result of some fine combination play between midfielder Lenny Rodrigues – who was excellent on the day – and Harmanjot Khabra.
Ten minutes later, Daniel Lalhlimpuia forced Chennai goalie Karanjit Singh into making a point-blank save. Karanjit, who was adjudged the player of the match, would make another save from Daniel towards the half hour mark when Chhetri sent him through on goal.
The closest Chennai came was on the stroke of half-time when forward Marcos Vinicius, managed to beat the offside trap – a rarity otherwise – to get a clear run at the goal, but only managed to hit the ball wide. K. Prashanth, who played on the right flank, gave a decent account of himself, managing to go past Sena Ralte on multiple occasions.
Chances were few and far between in the second half. Chhetri found himself in space just outside the area but his left-footer didn’t even hit the target. Then Rodrigues found Roby with a delightful chip but the Honduran’s first touch was found wanting. It was not long before he would make amends.
“We played to a plan,” said CCFC coach Robin Charles Raja. “We were organized. But the last 13 minutes made the difference. However, I am happy that the team is getting together.”
“We played a good first half,” said BFC coach Albert Roca. “I knew we had enough quality. But it was a bit hard today. May be if the first goal had come early, we would not have suffered.”
The result: Bengaluru FC 2 (Roby Norales 77, Vineeth 79) bt Chennai City FC 0.