Sunil Chhetri's diving header handed Bengaluru FC a 1-0 victory over Kerala Blasters at a densely-packed Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday.
The BFC captain's second-half effort was enough to propel his side to a second win of the season, and to second spot on the table, level with leader ATK.
The game got under way in a frenzied, electric atmosphere, with Kerala Blasters fans turning out in great numbers, easily matching the home support.
Bengaluru FC 1-0 Kerala Blasters, as it happened
BFC began cautiously, and it was a while before Carles Cuadrat's all-Indian front three began having an impact on the game. They gradually grew into the contest though, and in the 28th minute, BFC felt it had taken the lead. An Udanta Singh cut-back from the byline was headed in by Raphael Augusto, but the assistant referee deemed that the ball had gone out of play first. And so the goal was chalked off. On television replays, though, it was far from clear if the whole of the ball had crossed the whole of the line.
BFC continued to impose itself on the game, with Kerala limited to counter-attacks. A long goal-kick saw Messi Bouli through on goal, but the forward hammered the ball miles over the bar.
BFC stormed out of the traps in the second half, putting the Kerala defence under great pressure at once. The push yielded the desired result 10 minutes in. A corner from Dimas Delgado found Chhetri completely unmarked. He darted in from the edge of the area, and stooped to nod the ball home.
Augusto, BFC's summer recruit, was excellent all evening. The Brazilian is quite simply a higher class of footballer than those around him. He nearly doubled the advantage in the 74th minute, drawing a fine left-footed save from T.P. Rehenesh.
There were a couple of flash-points as the clock ticked down and Kerala desperately sought the equalizer. A lunging tackle on Kuruniyan from Bouli, already on a booking, went unpunished, much to BFC's fury. There were few clear-cut chances for Kerala though, as it sank to a third defeat in five games.
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