A superlative first-half performance gave Bengaluru FC (BFC) a 3-0 victory over Chennaiyin FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday.
Australian midfielder Erik Paartalu’s header on 14 minutes, skipper Sunil Chhetri’s fine first-time strike near the half-hour mark and Thongkhosiem Haokip’s goal six minutes from time helped the defending champion earn its first win of the season and jump up to fifth in the table (6 points) as the league breaks for international football.
It was a miserable night for John Gregory and his men - so thoroughly outplayed they were in every department. The result was Chennayin’s third loss in four games, and leaves the club with much soul-searching to do.
Bengaluru FC 3-0 Chennaiyin, as it happened
In fact, the three-goal margin can be seen as a relief. Bengaluru had as many as half-a-dozen chances in the opening ten minutes alone with Paartalu, Juanan, Raphael Augusto, Udanta Singh and Chhetri all in the mix.
Chhetri’s was the closest, with his superb diving header at a ball that was just knee high crashing off the post. It didn’t take long for Paartalu to open the scoring however, when he met Dimas Delgado’s corner unmarked.
Augusto, formerly of Chennaiyin, showed what his previous employer had lost as he looked like playing a defence-splitting pass almost at will. One such delivery in the 25th minute took out four Chennaiyin players and Chhetri applied the finishing touch with a first-time shot.
The away side improved marginally after the break following the introduction of winger Lallianzuala Chhangte. Anirudh Thapa and Rafael Crivellaro, the two creative outlets, showed flashes of what they could and Dhanpal Ganesh hit the post from close range.
However, Haokip put the result to bed on 84 minutes when he slotted home a through ball after out-muscling defender Eli Sabia. Chhetri missed a golden chance to score a second, shooting wide with the goal at his mercy. But it will not be something he or his club will lose sleep over.
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