I-League: Bengaluru pip East Bengal, widen gap at top

Sunil Chhetri led former champions Bengaluru FC to a 1-0 win over East Bengal with his second-half strike that consolidated their position atop the standings in the I-League football at the Vidyasagar Krirangan.

Goalkeeper Amrinder Singh was in excellent form for Bengaluru FC   -  I-League Media

Sunil Chhetri led former champions Bengaluru FC to a 1-0 win over East Bengal with his second-half strike that consolidated their position atop the standings in the I-League football at the Vidyasagar Krirangan here today.

Under pressure in the first-half when the home side missed a flurry of chances, Bengaluru turned it around with Chhetri’s goal at the hour mark when he tapped the ball to the far post to register their first away win against the men in red-and-gold.

This was Bengaluru’s fourth win from five matches as they went four points clear of East Bengal and Mumbai FC, against whom they had suffered a 2-0 defeat this season.

For East Bengal, this was also their first defeat of the season and a big blow for their title aspiration with two draws and one loss from five matches.

However, East Bengal dominated the proceedings in the first half but a resolute Bengaluru central defence in John Johnson and Curtis Osano along with Amrinder Singh thwarted each of their attempts.

Ashley Westwood’s move in replacing Lalthuammawia Ralte, who had an off-day against Mumbai FC, with Amrinder proved to be a masterstroke as the Atletico de Kolkata goalie saved at least two sure shot goals to be adjudged man-of-the-match.

Just before Chhetri scored the winner, Amrinder denied Do Dong Hyun’s powerful left-footed freekick from the edge of the box, and followed it up by saving Joaquim Abranches’ strike on the rebound.

Biswajit Bhattacharya’s wards tried their best for the equaliser with Dong breaching from the right on several occasions but every time the BFC wall blocked his path.

East Bengal would surely lament their missed chances in the first-half. In the 17th minute, Abranches was found by a through ball from Mehtab Hossain but the Goan managed to shoot straight to Osano.

From the resultant corner kick, East Bengal had three opportunities at the goal with Dong shooting from the right, followed by Ranty Martins’ strike from the middle and then Bikash Jairu’s drive from the right but Bengaluru FC defence warded off all their attempts.

At the half-hour mark, an outstretched Amrinder once again stood tall to deny a Ranty strike. The 2013-14 champions Bengaluru FC will next play Sporting Goa at home.

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