Bengaluru beat Kerala after hard-fought battle in Kochi

Bengaluru FC had to work hard to earn an impressive 2-1 victory over southern rivals Kerala Blasters FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Monday. The Blues now top the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) table with 13 points from a possible 15.

The result also handed Kerala their first loss of the season after going undefeated in their first five outings.

  • Sunil Chhetri opened the scoring with a neat finsih on the 17th minute.
  • Slavisla Stojanovic equalised from the spot on the 30th minute.
  • A late own goal by Nikola Krcmarevic handed Bengaluru all three points. 

Bengaluru started the brighter of the two sides, dominating possession and creating a few half chances. The sustained pressure paid off for the away team and the Blues took the lead on the 17th minute through captain fantastic Chhetri. Miku released his strike partner with a sublime through ball that split open the Blasters’ defence. Chhetri used his pace to race past Sandesh Jhingan before coolly slotting the ball past Naveen Kumar to score his fourth goal of the campaign. The Kerala defence appealed for offside, but the flag stayed down. 

The goal served as a stern wake-up call for the hosts and they nearly equalised on the 21st minute.  A low cross across the face of goal from Prasanth K found Seiminlen Doungel just outside the six-yard box. However, the forward only managed to hit the side-netting. 

But the Blasters would eventually get their equaliser courtesy of some careless defending by Nishu Kumar. The young defender brought down Sahal Abdul Samad inside the box, leaving the referee no choice but to award a penalty. Stojanovic stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick and rifled the ball into the top corner.

Bengaluru were taken aback by the goal but regrouped quickly. They nearly regained the lead after some impressive work by Miku. The Venezuelan forward exquisitely beat his defender with a sharp turn before unleashing a ferocious drive that went just over the bar. With the score tied at 1-1, both sides opted for caution in the final minutes leading up to the half-time whistle.

The visitors engineered the first real chance of the second half with the dynamic Miku once again causing problems for the Kerala backline. The forward got behind the Kerala defence down the left wing before cutting the ball back for Udanta Singh. However, his shot was expertly blocked by Lalruatthara before Naveen Kumar was able to parry the ball away.

Around the hour mark, Chhetri almost bagged his second goal of the night when he whipped in a curling effort from the edge of the box but Kumar expertly saved the shot.

As the game reached its last quarter, the hosts were awarded a golden chance to take the lead. Prasanth K slid in a delightful pass for Vineeth, who was through on goal. However, the forward was caught in two minds on whether to pass the ball or finish it himself. He ended up fluffing his lines.

That miss would prove costly for Kerala as Bengaluru took the lead only minutes later. Miku picked up the ball down the right-hand side of the penalty box before releasing substitute Xisco Hernandez with a smart cut-back. The Spaniard’s shot was well saved by Kumar, but the rebound bounced off an unlucky Nikola Krcmarevic and went into the empty net. The Blues would go on to defend resolutely for the remainder of the half, coming away with a vital victory.

Watch the match highlights here:

HERO OF THE MATCH – DIMAS DELGADO

The Spaniard was an ever-present in midfield with his defence-splitting passes and intelligent movement off the ball. Dimas was the lynchpin of the side and was responsible for making the team tick. Bengaluru will be delighted that their midfield maestro is finally fit and firing after a lengthy injury spell. He is the Hero of the Match. 

MATCH AWARDS  

Club Award – Bengaluru FC 

Swift Limitless Player of the Match – Gurpreet Singh Sandhu 

DHL Winning Pass of the Match – Miku 

ISL Emerging Player of the Match – Lalruatthara 

Hero of the Match – Dimas Delgado

WHAT’S NEXT?

Kerala will host FC Goa at home on November 11, while Bengaluru will have to wait till after the international break to play their next fixture away to Goa on November 22.

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