Bengaluru extend their unbeaten run at ATK’s expense

Bengaluru FC dealt a major blow to ATK’s top four ambitions after beating them 1-0 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Thursday. The result also saw Bengaluru extend their unbeaten run in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 to 11.

  • Erik Paartalu scored with a glancing header to give Bengaluru the lead on the 37th minute.
  • Balwant Singh missed two big opportunities to score the equaliser in the second-half.
  • The win takes the Blues six points clear at the top of the table.

The match got off to a breathless start, with some end to end action on offer for the fans. Both teams used the wings well to create some dangerous openings. Bengaluru had an early crack at goal through Sunil Chhetri, but his shot went harmlessly wide.

The match showed no signs of slowing down even after the first 15 minutes. There was a lot happening on the pitch and Bengaluru had two penalty claims turned down in quick succession.

As the match progressed, the home team slowly took control. The Blues looked the likeliest to score the first goal of the match, and they did. On the 37th minute, Erik Paartalu leapt high to meet Kean Lewis' sublime cross and put his glancing header past Arindam Bhattacharja in the ATK goal.

The home team was firmly in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the first-half and went into the break with the one-goal advantage.

ATK began the second-half on the front foot and put some early pressure on the Bengaluru defence. The Blues managed to successfully see off the dangerous phase and then slowed the game down to take the sting out of the ATK attackers.

Despite not creating much through open play, ATK found a golden opportunity to draw things level on the 57th minute through a set piece. Balwant timed his run well to beat Bengaluru's offside trap and latched onto Manuel Lanzarote's free kick. With just Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to beat, the ATK striker couldn't keep his head and blasted his shot over the bar.

Ten minutes later, Balwant found himself face to face with Gurpreet yet again after John Johnson played him through with an exquisite long ball from the deep. But his shot missed the far post by inches and the chance went begging.

The otherwise edgy second-half suddenly opened up after the 70th minute and either team could have scored the all-important second goal of the match. Udanta Singh shot wide of the mark for Bengaluru while ATK’s Everton Santos failed to hit the target from a favourable position.

ATK head coach Steve Coppell threw caution to the wind and introduced Komal Thatal and Australian striker Eli Babalj in the fray to find a late elusive equaliser. The away team threw bodies forward in the final minutes of the match but relied heavily on long aerial balls, which were dealt with easily by Bengaluru’s Juanan and Albert Serran. The lack of a recognized striker was evident for ATK as their attacks fizzled out consistently in the final third.

The home team could have put the match to bed in stoppage time. Chhetri seemed favourite to score after rounding up Arindam. The Bengaluru captain’s shot from a tight angle, however, fizzed harmlessly across the face of the goal. The miss counted for little though, as Bengaluru held on to secure the three points.

HERO OF THE MATCH – Erik Paartalu

The Australian midfielder not only scored the winning goal of the match, but also put in a masterclass at the heart of Bengaluru’s midfield. Paartalu impressed with his passing range and positional awareness throughout the ninety minutes. He is the Hero of the Match.

CLUB AWARDS 

Club Award – Bengaluru FC

Swift Limitless Player of the Match – Juanan

DHL Winning Pass of the Match – Kean Lewis

ISL Emerging Player of the Match – Ankit Mukherjee

Hero of the Match – Erik Paartalu

WHAT’S NEXT?

This was both teams’ final match before the winter break kicks in from December 17. Stay tuned for the next round of fixtures to know when they are in action next.

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