I-League: Resolute Bengaluru FC pip East Bengal to stay atop
Sunil Chhetri scored the only goal of the game.
Barasat (WB): Sunil Chhetri led former champions Bengaluru FC to a 1-0 win over East Bengal with his second-half strike that consolidated their position atop the standings in the I-League football at the Vidyasagar Krirangan here.
Under pressure in the first-half when the home side missed a flurry of chances, Bengaluru turned it around with Chhetri's goal at the hour mark when he tapped the ball to the far post to register their first away win against the red-and-gold.
This was Bengaluru's fourth win from five matches as they went four points clear of East Bengal and Mumbai FC, against whom they had suffered their first defeat this season -- a 0-2 reverse in Mumbai on Wednesday.
For East Bengal, this was also their first defeat of the season and a big blow for their title aspiration with two draws and one loss from five matches.
However, East Bengal dominated the proceedings in the first half but a resolute Bengaluru central defence in John Johnson and Curtis Osano along with Amrinder Singh thwarted each of their attempts.
Ashley Westwood's move in replacing Lalthuammawia Ralte who had an off-day against Mumbai FC with Amrinder proved to be a masterstroke as the Atletico de Kolkata goalie saved at least two sure shot goals to be adjudged man-of-the-match.
Just before Chhetri scored the winner, Amrinder denied Do Dong Hyun's powerful left-footed freekick from the edge of the box, and followed it up by saving Joaquim Abranches' strike on the rebound.
Biswajit Bhattacharya's wards tried their best for the equaliser with Dong breaching from the right on several occasions but every time the BFC wall was spot-on.
East Bengal would surely lament their missed chances in the first-half as they looked a better team in the first period but failed to take the lead.
In the 17th minute, Abranches was found through by Mehtab Hossain but the Goan managed to shoot straight to Osano.
From the resultant corner kick, East Bengal had three opportunities at the goal with Dong from the right, Ranty Martins from the middle and Bikash Jairu from the right but Bengaluru FC defence warded off all their attempts.
At the half-hour mark, an outstretched Amrinder once again stood tall to deny a Ranty strike.