A spot-kick from skipper Sunil Chhetri in the 68th minute and a sleek finish from Albert Serran in the 81st sealed the deal for Bengaluru against NorthEast United on Wednesday.
After a confident start to the season, NorthEast United finds itself staring at a slump in form, winless in four matches now.
Here are the major talking points from the match:
1) Second-half goal-fest
Twelve out of the 40 games in the Indian Super League (ISL) so far have seen goals come solely in the second half, with the others often seeing a flurry after the second half whistle.
While an intense first half with misses for both sides didn’t particular hassle the scoreboard, a handball saw a penalty given to the visitor.
Sunil Chhetri made no mistake, finding the back of the net with a smooth kick angled to the left corner. Serran followed soon after, slotting a header, also registering his first-ever ISL goal in his 24 appearances.
2) Of missed chances and an attack without sting
It is no secret that the host missed the service of Asamoah Gyan. NorthEast United had three shots on target but four off it, with Triadis getting the closest, twice.
In the 89th minute, Triadis managed to get the ball outside the box and curled one in from the right. The placement of that one was flawed with the ball finding itself safely in Gurpreet’s arms. The more realistic chance for the Greek was in the 77th minute as he managed a very sleek nearly cross-footed shot from the left towards the far post, but it went wide of the far post by an inch.
The biggest miss of all though, perhaps the one of the season was Udanta Singh’s effort to open the scoreline in the 33rd minute. Ashique Kuruniyan managed to fend off a defender in red to get across from the left which beat everyone along the way to make it to an unmarked Udanta who had an open goal before him.
However, Udanta’s steady header stormed in only to ricochet off the woodwork, sending the player down to his knees, hands over his face.
3) Positives and the looming fear of dependence
Bengaluru opted for a 4-1-4-1 attack as compared to NorthEast’s 4-2-3-1 formation with both defenses managing to hold the fort before the penalty decision that gave Bengaluru its opener.
NorthEast cannot afford a dependence on Gyan at this juncture of the league. Martin Chaves had to shoulder striking responsibility alone, with Triadis stepping in as the game progressed.
Both defenses were impenetrable and so while one can’t hold the NorthEast frontline by the collar, the side does need creativity in the midfield to give its strikers a chance to convert chances.
Bengaluru has dependence issues of its own. Besides Chhetri, no other striker or attacking midfielder seems to be in form. Serran and Juanan have starred for the side in the last few games but the defending champion needs its regulars – especially Ashique, Udanta, and the others to rise to the occasion.
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