Robin shines as East Bengal stuns Bengaluru FC 3-1

The returning Robin Singh, once adored by these crowds, received a rather rude welcome from the BFC faithful, but the striker had the last laugh, scoring twice in the second half against his former team. It put the game to bed, after Wedson Anselme had opened the scoring with a splendid solo effort.

East Bengal's Robin Singh is congratulated by team-mates after he scored a goal against his former club Bengaluru FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Bengaluru FC’s I-Leagues season went from troubled to miserable after East Bengal inflicted a stunning 3-1 defeat at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Saturday. The returning Robin Singh, once adored by these crowds, received a rather rude welcome from the BFC faithful, but the striker had the last laugh, scoring twice in the second half against his former team. It put the game to bed, after Wedson Anselme had opened the scoring with a splendid solo effort. C.K. Vineeth reduced the margin late on, which made for a tense final few minutes, but it mattered little in the end.

The result extended BFC's winless streak to seven matches in the I-League, leaving it 11 points adrift of table-topping East Bengal.

Much of the anger in the crowd towards Robin, who revels in casting himself as the villain, perhaps resulted from his decision to celebrate his strike in the reverse fixture. He did not do so this time, but that will have been little consolation for the home support. After taking a 1-0 lead into the interval, East Bengal had to absorb some early BFC pressure in the second period.

Sunil Chhetri's header across goal in the 53rd minute offered Daniel Lalhlimpuia a gilded opportunity but the substitute's shot sailed over the bar. Less than a minute later, East Bengal scored at the other end. The full-back Robert Lalthlamuana drove down the left wing before swinging in a fine cross. Robin made no mistake, guiding his header into the bottom corner. As BFC surged forward, East Bengal struck the killer blow on the break. A cross from the right was chested down by Christopher Payne Baden, and Robin applied the finishing touches.

It was the final nail in the coffin on a difficult evening for BFC. Albert Roca's men had struggled for cohesion during a lively first half when East Bengal clearly had the better of the exchanges.

Trevor Morgan made seven changes to the side that lost to Aizawl FC and if he was looking for a response, he got one. Robin Singh blazed an early shot over the bar. Anselme was a bustling, creative presence just behind the front two, bothering BFC no end. Behind him, Mehtab Hossain shadowed Sunil Chhetri, giving BFC's skipper — and vital creative outlet — little room for maneuver. The opening goal was the product of a piece of individual brilliance from Anselme.

A BFC foray upfield broke down and the giant East Bengal centre-half Ivan Bukenya sparked the counter-attack with a fine cross-field pass into Anselme's feet. The Haitian stormed down the inside-right channel, cut inside on his left foot, and unleashed a flawless, curling effort into the far corner. Overpowered in central midfield, BFC sought to use the flanks but the excellent Bukenya handled any crosses with ease.

Tempers flare

Tempers flared after the final whistle. A scuffle broke out, with Mehtab Hossain and the BFC head coach Albert Roca at the centre of it. "Mehtab applauded the Bengaluru fans. We don't need to do that. Nothing was meant by Mehtab but maybe the coach was frustrated. It was just pushing and shoving," said East Bengal head coach Trevor Morgan later.

Roca was displeased with Mehtab's behaviour towards the home fans after the end of the game. "Some players have to be more respectful. Our supporters don't deserve that. You need to show sensitivity after the final whistle, especially when you win away," he said.

BFC sits fifth on the I-League table, after its third defeat of the campaign, with its hopes of defending the title receding.

The result: Bengaluru FC 1 (C.K. Vineeth 85) lost to East Bengal 3 (Wedson Anselme 23, Robin Singh 54, 60).

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