Bengaluru FC see off NorthEast United to start on a winning note

 

Bengaluru FC began their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season with a victory as they pipped last season’s semi-finalists NorthEast United FC 4-2 at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa on Saturday.

Five out of the six goals came during a frantic first half that saw Bengaluru FC thrice take the lead firstly through Cleiton Silva (14’), then through a Mashoor Shereef own goal (22’) and finally via Jayesh Rane (42’) after NorthEast United had equalised twice thanks to goals from Deshorn Brown (17’) and Mathias Coureur (25’).

Substitute Prince Ibara then put the result beyond all doubt, scoring in the 81st minute to seal the win for the Blues.

In the first half, NorthEast United almost got off to the perfect start when Brown’s attempted overhead kick went close in just the second minute. But it was Bengaluru who opened the scoring in the 14th minute when Silva broke the offside trap to get on the end of a brilliant through ball, round the goalkeeper and score with great composure.

However, the Highlanders hit back instantly with another well-taken goal this time from ex-Blues man Brown who brilliantly controlled an inch-perfect cross from Suhair VP to slot it past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu for the equaliser three minutes later.

As the rain came down hard in Bambolim, neither team had full control of the game and the Blues profited when Shereef rather awkwardly put it into his own net after mishiting a clearance in the 22nd minute just seconds after Subhiasish Roy Choudhary had produced a fine save to deny Bengaluru.

However, three minutes later at the other end, Sandhu was found wanting as he failed to prevent a rather tame shot from Coureur from finding the back of the Bengaluru FC net as the scoreline read 2-2 at the end of 25 minutes.

Both teams enjoyed half chances in the rest of the half before Rane made one count when he found the bottom corner with a low drilled effort that found its way past the NorthEast United goalkeeper rather easily three minutes from the interval. The Blues went into the break with their noses in front but didn’t have the control of the game.

Chhetri then had the first chance of the second half in the 48th minute but he hit his shot straight at the goalkeeper. The game settled down in a calmer rhythm in the second half as the Blues were pleased to hold onto their first-half advantage.

Eventually, nine minutes from time, substitute Ibara secured the points for Bengaluru FC with a well-taken goal and give coach Marco Pezzaiuoli a winning start to his tenure.

Bengaluru FC face Odisha in their next encounter on Wednesday at Tilak Maidan stadium, while the Highlanders take on Kerala Blasters a day later at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Margao, Goa.

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