Bengaluru FC kept alive its faint hopes of qualifying for the semifinal playoffs with a battling, comeback 2-1 win over Odisha FC at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on Monday.
The result sent BFC into fifth spot, with 26 points from 18 matches, sandwiched between Kerala Blasters in fourth (27) and Mumbai City FC in sixth (25). But both Kerala and Mumbai have played two fewer games, which leaves BFC with much to do.
Odisha, on 22 points from 18 matches, needs to win both its remaining matches and hope for favourable results elsewhere for a playoffs spot, an unlikely scenario.
Kino Garcia’s men went ahead in the eighth minute when Nandhakumar Sekar bundled in a stray ball after striker Jonathas Cristian’s initial shot from a one-on-one situation bounced off BFC goalie Lara Sharma. It was Pratik Chaudhari’s sloppy footwork that helped the ball get to Cristian in the first place.
BFC equalised when the returning Roshan Naorem showed his class again at set-piece delivery, with his fine corner headed in powerfully by Danish Farooq at the far post. Odisha goalie Kamaljit Singh was at fault too, charging off his line without any chance of reaching the ball.
On the stroke of half-time, Nandhakumar could have scored again, but managed to only hit the left side netting after collecting a splendid through ball from Javier Hernandez from the halfway line.
Odisha paid the price immediately after the restart, when Cleiton Silva scored from the penalty spot after Lalruatthara was adjudged to have fouled Udanta Singh. Barely minutes later, BFC’s Bruno Ramires hit the crossbar after a fierce close-range shot from Prince Ibara was saved well by Kamaljit.
In the 75th minute, midfielder Isaac Chhakchhuak’s curler destined for the right-corner was tipped on to the post, and to safety, by a diving Lara. A 2-2 result would have all but killed BFC’s chances but Marco Pezzaiuoli’s men have lived to fight another day.