I-League: DSK holds Bengaluru FC

The visiting side was at the receiving end for so long that snatching a point when down for the count reflected in celebrations at the final whistle, the draw keeping it in fifth position after six games.

Bengaluru FC midfielder Cameron Watson vies for the ball against DSK Shivajians' Jerry Lalrinzuala at the Balewadi Stadium, in Pune, on Sunday.   -  Special Arrangment

Bengaluru FC halted its bad run of back-to-back of defeats with a 2-2 draw against DSK Shivajians in the Hero I-League 2017 match. The defending champion was forced to share points with a club way down the league table but in the end will count itself luck to have escaped another loss on a gameweek when East Bengal and Mohun Bagan won.

The visiting side was at the receiving end for so long that snatching a point when down for the count reflected in celebrations at the final whistle, the draw keeping it in fifth position after six games.

Sunil Chhetri and Salam Ranjan Singh were on target for BFC, neutralising a stunning two-goal burst by Holicharan Narzary for DSK at the Balewadi stadium. Chhetri scored with a crafty placement, Salam powered home a header off a flag-kick. The applause was reserved for Narzary though, later named ‘Best Player’ for two audacious strikes past Amrinder Singh.

DSK, clad in red shirts, dominated play in the first half and early in the second half, at one point all 10 players were in the rival half, except goalkeeper Subrata Paul. Victory was in sight till 15 minutes left for the whistle, at th end the home team trooped off disappointed. A draw against the champion is creditable, the team is clearly better than sixth place on the table, one place below BFC.

Three changes by BFC coach Alberto Roca resulted in the champions clawing back. Eugeneson Lyngdoh in midfield, Udanta upfront and Keegan Pereira at the back made way for Allwyn George, Daniel Lahlimpuia and L Ralte respectively. Chhetri trapped a long clearance from the centreline, tricked his marker and placed past Paul, beaten again by Salam header.

John Johnson’s absence in the defence was felt as a confident DSK rattled the defending champions right through the first half. Moving the ball in the midfield with assurance, the home team in red shirts banked on long passes to link up with strikers Narzary and Sumeet Passi, who found space to tap the ball back and take up striking positions.

DSK’s second goal came off a long pass in the 59th minute. Milan Singh lifted the ball from the right deep into the BFC goalmouth for Narzary to strike. Amrinder tried to cover the angle but the ball had darted between his legs into the net. Narzary’s goal in the first half also happened due to indecision at the back. The striker used the time and space given to punish BFC.

The home side went on the offensive from kick-off, finding the route to the BFC goal easier than expected. Amrinder under the visitors bar was kept busy. Passi crossed low from the right for Narzary at the left post to connect first-time, the shot was blocked. Juan Quero’s shot from an acute angle struck the post and bounced back into play.

Amrinder also had to deal with an errant linesman to deal with. Quero got the ball and the flag went up for offside, only for the linesman to change his mind and allow play to continue. Luckily for BFC, the striker’s attempt to catch a shocked goalkeeper by surprise did not work as the ball looped over the crossbar.

Defender Juan Fernandez came to BFC rescue with a timely block to foil Narzary, who later took off on a celebratory run after striking the ball past Amrinder into the net. A defensive lapse allowed the DSK winger time to get hold of the ball and beat an onrushing goalkeeper with a placement into an empty net.

Scores: DSK Shivajians FC 2 (Holicharan Narzary 2) drew with Bengaluru FC 2 (Sunil Chhetri, Salam Ranjan Singh).

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