Haokip strike helps Bengaluru edge out Paro FC in Thimpu

Bengaluru FC registered a 1-0 win over Bhutanese side Paro FC in the first leg of their 2020 AFC Cup Preliminary Stage 2 clash at the Chamlingthang Stadium in Thimpu on Wednesday. A 53rd minute Semboi Haokip strike turned out to be the difference between the two sides in the match.

Bengaluru started the match brightly and looked the more dangerous of the two sides early on. Blues youngster Naorem Roshan Singh, making his senior team debut, was particularly impressive in the opening stages, running the game from the midfield with brilliant composure and poise. Juanan came close to scoring for the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 champions from a free kick in the 20th minute, but Paro FC goalkeeper Tobgay did well to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Paro started creating a few problems for Bengaluru after the 20-minute mark, primarily relying on Chencho Gyelthsen and Phurpa Wangchuk’s pace up front. Bengaluru, however, continued creating the more noteworthy chances. In the 32nd minute, Roshan sent Semboi Haokip through on goal with a lovely threaded through ball but the striker failed to keep his effort on target. Francisco Borges also failed to take his chance soon after, following a lovely team move involving the Spaniard, Kean Lewis and Haokip.

The match took an intense turn heading into the break, with tackles flying in from both sides. The two teams headed into half time with the score 0-0.

Eight minutes into the restart, Haokip scored the first goal of the match to make it 1-0. Francisco Borges did well to turn his man in midfield and fed the ball to Roshan just outside the Paro FC box. The youngster picked up Haokip’s run into the danger zone and the striker finished from a tight angle to make it 1-0 in the Indian team’s favour.

With Paro FC throwing men forward in search of an equaliser, gaps opened up in the home team’s defence and Bengaluru almost capitalized in the 57th minute. Borges’ shot from range following a quick counter, however, was well saved by Tobgay.

Just after the hour mark, Bengaluru head coach Carles Cuadrat brought Sunil Chhetri on in place of Roshan in an attempt to find a second goal. The ace striker’s arrival immediately impacted the match, as Bengaluru started to exert their dominance on the proceedings. Erik Paartalu forced another good save out of the Paro FC custodian in the 67th minute.

The hosts tried to up the ante in the final 15 minutes to claw their way back into the contest, and Chencho even tested Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in the Bengaluru goal after cutting in from the right and firing his shot at goal. The attempt, however, was too tame to worry the Bengaluru keeper. The match ended 1-0 in Bengaluru’s favour.

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