Miku screamer helps Bengaluru exact revenge

Miku's 41st minute strike steered Bengaluru FC to a 1-0 win over Chennaiyin FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday.

Miku's goal just before half-time, put Bengaluru FC in front against Chennaiyin FC.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Bengaluru FC got the monkey off its back in the very first game of the fifth edition of the Indian Super League. After suffering two disheartening losses to Chennaiyin FC at home in the previous season, Miku helped Bengaluru register a 1-0 win over defending champion at Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday and put an end to Chennaiyin’s unbeaten streak here.

Except for the first five minutes - when both teams were still easing into the game - it was Chennaiyin that looked likely to score first, or twice, as the side created successive chances in the Bengaluru half. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu didn’t have the best of starts. With a shaky defense creating trouble for him, he almost conceded but luck was on his side on Sunday. The home side was hanging by a thread as he thwarted attempts, trying to keep a sheet clean. It was up to midfield master Xisco Hernandez to turn things around.

In the 41st minute, against the run of play, Xisco sneaked a neat pass to Miku who found himself clear on goal. Bengaluru’s top scorer had no trouble in blasting the ball with surety into the top-right corner to open the account for the 2017-18 runner-up.

As it happened

The first real chance of the game came for Bengaluru in the third minute, with Erik Paartalu managing to get a clear shot on goal off a long throw. An alert Karanjit Singh successfully blocked the attempt. There was still a chance for Nishu Kumar to get a goal in on the rebound, but Karanjit shielded effectively.

While both teams shared possession, it was Chennaiyin that had maximum chances on goal. But luck was not its side today. Chennaiyin’s first shot at goal came in the 19th minute. On a quick counter-attack, Gregory Nelson managed to create an open field for Jeje Lalpekhlua to score, but his weak attempt rolled wide off the target.

Chennaiyin had two more chances. In the 33rd minute, Gurpreet showed a needless sense of attacking instinct as Chennai’s frontline crowded him and almost scored a goal. In the 35th minute, Gurpreet was caught off guard but managed to parry a good left foot effort from distance by Germanpreet Singh.

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While Chhetri had a quiet first half, he showed much more intent in the second half. Both the teams engaged in counter-attacks after the break and Bengaluru looked much more assured after the first goal and thwarted Chennaiyin’s multiple desperate attempts at goal towards the end.

In the 80th minute, Chennaiyin got a freekick just outside the area, but Inigo Calderon couldn’t cause any flutters as the ball sailed wide and away from goal. Chennaiyin had another feeble attempt on goal through Fransicsco Fernandes, but the towering Gurpreet timed his jump to perfection to safely hold on to the ball and deny the visitor an opportunity to score.

Chennaiyin kept piling pressure during added time, getting a corner in the 90th minute. Nelson’s attempt fell flat and with it ended Chennaiyin's chances to equalise and salvage a draw.