Blues triumph over Highlanders to reach the summit

Bengaluru FC edged NorthEast United FC by a 2 – 1 scoreline in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Friday. Spanish defender Juanan scored his first ever league goal to give the Blues the lead before Marcinho equalised from the spot. The hosts, however, had the last say as skipper Sunil Chhetri bagged the winner in the second half.

The home team started with more intensity as they started pressing in the final third, with the Highlanders doing well to soak up the pressure. It was, however, NorthEast, who were the first to create an opening in the 13th minute. Danilo Lopes went on a brilliant run down the left flank and put in a cross, but Seiminlen Doungel, under pressure from his marker, failed to find a proper connection.

A couple of minutes later, the Blues got a deserved lead. Edu Garcia floated in a free-kick from the left and Juanan rose high to flick the ball into the net with a back-header. They could have doubled their advantage the very next minute when Subhasish Bose cut back the ball from the left flank, but Chhetri slightly scuffed his first-time shot, allowing custodian TP Rehenesh to save with his legs.

Three minutes after the half-hour mark, Doungel went on a great run, skipping past a couple of defenders before unleashing a left-footed effort that was curling into the top-corner. However, Bengaluru keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu stretched himself to make a good save.

Ten minutes before the break, Lenny Rodrigues put in a delightful through-ball for Garcia, whose perfect first-touch set him up on goal. However, with Rehenesh coming off his lines, the Spaniard came up with a poor finish that missed the target.

The Highlander’s clawed themselves back into the game in the third minute of added time. Doungel’s attempted cut-back from inside the box was deemed to have been handled by a sliding Bose, and a penalty was awarded to the visitors. Marcinho stepped up and smashed home the spot-kick to equalise. That proved to be the last bit of action from an entertaining half, as the teams went into the break locked at 1 – 1.

It took just six minutes following the restart, for the Blues to regain their lead. Sambinha missed the ball when he swung his legs at a Harmanjot Khabra cross, while Nirmal Chettri’s attempted clearance popped off his knees. With the ball coming straight to the lurking Chhetri, Bengaluru’s captain came up with a brilliant finish to put it into the net from a tight angle.

Nirmal, though, should have scored a minute before the hour mark. Marcinho’s corner found him in space and under no pressure, but the NorthEast defender missed his free-header and the ball bounced off his shoulder to go out of play.

Nine minutes from time and Nirmal was involved again when he put in a delightful cross from the right-hand side to find substitute John Mosquera in front of goal. However, the Highlanders’ new signing, under pressure from the defenders, headed over the target. That proved to be the last real chance of the game as Bengaluru reclaimed the top-spot in the league table with the three points.

MATCH AWARDS

Club Award: Bengaluru FC

Swift Moment of the Match: Sunil Chhetri

DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Harmanjot Khabra

Amul Fittest Player: Marcinho

Emerging Player: Seiminlen Doungel

Hero of the Match: Juanan

Watch the match highlights here:

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