I-League: Vineeth’s goal wins it for Bengaluru

Captain Sunil Chhetri returned to the squad but Bengaluru, not for the first time this season, barely managed to impose itself. The initial exchanges were capricious at best with both teams seemingly hell bent on giving up the hard won ball.

BFC's C. K. Vineeth (31), celebrates after scoring a goal, during an I-League 2015-16 match against Aizawl FC, at Sree Kanteerava stadium, in Bengaluru.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Bengaluru FC egged out a scrappy 1-0 win over Aizawl FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Sunday. A set-piece goal from C.K. Vineeth in the 47th minute was all that separated the two sides as Bengaluru climbed to second spot in the I-League table (18 points).

Captain Sunil Chhetri returned to the squad but Bengaluru, not for the first time this season, barely managed to impose itself. The initial exchanges were capricious at best with both teams seemingly hell bent on giving up the hard won ball.

Bengaluru in particular was unable to create much through the middle even as Aizawl, trying to pass out of the back, lost the ball regularly. Almost all of the home side’s attacks were from the right flank with the rest of the team left high and dry.

Aizawl though gradually grew into the contest and found space in the final third with the powerful forward Alfred Jaryan a nagging presence. The team was even able to build from the back as Bengaluru’s pressing went down a notch.

On 20 minutes, Lalmuankima after having made a darting run on the right wing, which started inside his own half, failed to convert. Later Lalbiakthanga, Lalrinmuana and Kima again all had threatening long-range hits to their name.

As Bengaluru resorted to hit diagonal balls to its overlapping fullbacks, centre-back Curtis Osano, on the 40 minute, picked out Keegan Pereira on the left with a pin-point pass. His fine cross was however headed out at the near post by Seiminlen Doungel and the half remained goalless.

Right after the break, Jaryan, after some slick footwork by Muana, swiped one just wide. But Aizawl was caught on the counter immediately, resulting in a free-kick from which Bengaluru went ahead. Pereira swung a near-perfect ball for Vineeth to head in his fourth of the season.

From then on Bengaluru withdrew even more in an attempt to hold onto the lead rather than increase it. It could have paid for the defensive strategy twice, but didn’t. First Kima, on 79 minutes, after being sent through on the right, opted to cut in instead shooting straight and then Jaryan hit a thunderous volley from point-blank range straight at goalie Amrinder Singh.

The result: Bengaluru FC 1 (Vineeth 47) bt Aizawl FC 0