ISL 2019-20: NorthEast thwart Bengaluru FC in goalless stalemate

Both Bengaluru FC and NorthEast United FC had clear cut opportunities at goal but profligacy in finishing cost both teams in their opening ISL duel.

Chhetri reacts after failing to keep his shot on target.   -  K. Murali Kumar

There were the frills, four clear goal opportunities, and a multitude of half-chances, but the defending champion Bengaluru FC had to be content with a goalless draw against NorthEast United FC in its opening Indian Super League campaign at Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.

Despite a slow start, the Highlanders gave a fright to the host through Uruguay’s Martin Chaves Garcia and Ghanaian Asamoah Gyan to walk away with a point from the Fortress.

AS IT HAPPENED

The first half saw Bengaluru beginning the proceedings on an attacking note. The first 20 minutes had the host enjoying nearly a 70 per cent possession, but it failed to capitalise on the opportunities to score.

Ashique Kuruniyan, playing as a left-back in his first game for BFC, began on a promising note. Running full steam through the left flank, he found himself through on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat, but his earnest attempt went past the far post.

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The rain picked up in intensity as the game went on. Photo: K. Murali Kumar

 

NEUFC, which was clearly playing second fiddle until then, began penetrating the BFC defence, with Chaves finding goalkeeper Gurpreet Sandhu in the 20th minute. Chaves would continue to trouble Bengaluru through the day. NorthEast missed an opportunity to score in the 35th minute as a Chaves volley found the crossbar. Gurpreet was in no position to defend had Chaves got the right elevation.

The case of missed opportunities meant an eventful first-half ended goalless.

The first big chance in the second half came in the 52nd minute for Jarni’s team. Chaves sent through the ball to a well-positioned Gyan at the box after a misstep from Chhetri allowed for a change of possession. The Ghanaian legend, however, hit the crossbar, evoking a big sigh of despair from the NEUFC fans. If Bengaluru dominated the possession in the first half, the Highlanders gave themselves ample opportunities to open the scoring in the second half.

 

After Udanta Singh missed an easy opportunity in the 27th minute after Raphael Augusto set him up nicely to have a clear shot at the goal, the host got its next biggest chance in the 65th minute through a free-kick opportunity. The rain, only picking in intensity as the game went on, proved no deterrent to the NEUFC’s goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury’s visibility as he successfully thwarted Nishu Kumar’s volley. It proved to be the last big chance of the night as the teams played out a goalless draw.

Carles Cuadrat gave debuts to three new recruits - Augusto, Spaniard Manuel Onwu and India’s Ashique, with the Brazilian midfielder proving the most effective on the night.

Later, Cuadrat revealed that Australian midfielder Erik Paartalu has an ankle injury and is expected to be out of action for a while.

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