Bengaluru FC defeated 10-man RoundGlass Punjab FC 2-0 in their second Hero Super Cup 2023 Group A match at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode on Wednesday.

Bengaluru FC, who drew their first match against Sreenidi Deccan, now have four points from two outings. Sreenidi, who beat Kerala Blasters in the earlier match of the day, have an equal number of points.  

The first half saw RoundGlass Punjab enjoying a fair share of the ball possession and attempts at the rival goal as well. Juan Mera Gonzalez was the brain behind most of the threatening moves. In the 11th minute he set up Krishnananda Singh, but the striker failed to keep his shot on target.

Bengaluru FC, meanwhile, had a few good opportunities to find the back of the net. In the 22nd minute, Rohit Kumar displayed great footwork to shrug off a defender only to find his powerful shot from inside the box struck the underside of the crossbar and come back into play.

In the dying seconds of the first half, Sunil Chhetri won the ball just outside the box and passed it for N Sivasakthi. But the young attacker’s attempt was pushed away by RoundGlass Punjab custodian Kiran Limbu. In a follow-up move, Rohit Kumar too missed the opportunity, as he couldn’t keep his shot on target.

After switching sides, the Hero Indian Super League 2022-23 finalists started on a better note. Substitute Roy Krishna led waves of attacks for the Blues and in one instance in the 54th minute, found himself in a good position to score. The Fijian forward dribbled past goalkeeper Limbu, but Valpuia stepped in time to save his attempt.

Minutes later, Chhetri came close to scoring after Udanta Singh performed a great run on the right flank and delivered an inch-perfect aerial cross. However, Kiran Limbu, who was in wonderful form on the night, saved the Blues skipper’s powerful header.

In the 56th minute, the Nepalese goalkeeper once again stepped in to save RoundGlass Punjab from conceding. This time, the 33-year-old stood strong between the sticks to stave off a tap-in by Udanta from a very close range.

Finally, in the 66th minute, Bengaluru found the breakthrough when substitute Pablo Perez’s thumping header was partially parried away by Limbu, but he had no answer for Udanta’s header that gave Simon Grayson’s men a 1-0 lead.

The matters went worse for RoundGlass as in the 78th minute, the referee gave a second yellow card and the red card to Huidrom Naocha Singh for a foul on Namgyal Bhutia. Despite going down to 10 men, the Hero I-League 2022-23 champions kept moving forward in search of the equaliser. 

Eventually, the Blues doubled their lead deep into the stoppage time. Javi Hernandez was brought down inside the box by Mohammed Salah. The Spanish midfielder made no mistake in scoring from the spot to make it 2-0.

In their final group stage game of the Hero Super Cup on Sunday, the Blues will go up against arch-rivals Kerala Blasters, and RoundGlass Punjab will take on Sreenidi Deccan FC.

Kerala Blasters FC go down to Sreenidi Deccan FC

Kerala Blasters FC suffered their first defeat of the Hero Super Cup 2023 at the hands of Sreenidi Deccan FC in a 2-0 loss at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode on Wednesday.

A sublime finish from Rilwan Hassan and a stunning volley from captain David Castaneda helped the Hero I-League runners-up cruise past the Blasters.

Sreenidi Deccan head coach Carlos Manuel Vaz Pinto had stressed in the pre-match interaction that his side had everything to prove against the team from Kerala. And on match day, they did so in style, kicking off with the same confidence which earned them a precious point against Bengaluru FC in their opener.

Phalguni Singh, who was adjudged as the Hero of The Match, played as an anchor in the midfield, controlling the pace of the game and it was he who started the move for their 1st goal in the 17th minute. The midfielder ran a few metres with the ball before passing it on to Rilwan Hassan. The former Midtjylland player cut inside and beat his marker before letting loose a low shot to the far post to give his side the lead.

Sreenidi thoroughly deserved their lead, having been the more innovative side for the opening period. Kerala Blasters, in sharp contrast, looked flat in the absence of their talisman, Adrian Luna. For them, worse was to follow.

The side’s captain David Castaneda made it 2-0 just before half time. Hassan was the one to start the move this time, passing the ball wide out to Dinesh Singh on the left flank. The left back whipped in a curling cross inside the penalty box. While the ball had the requisite venom, it required some more individual brilliance to result in a goal.

Castaneda provided it, rising high and volleying the ball while in mid-air, into the top corner. It may well prove to be the goal of the tournament.

The Tuskers tried their best to put together a comeback in the second half, but lacked a cutting edge up front.

Sreenidi goalkeeper Aryan Lamba was called into action in the 68th minute, his fingers deflecting the ball onto the post to deny Mark Leskovic's header.

The result meant that Sreenidi could secure a spot in the semi-finals if they register a win against Hero I-League champions RoundGlass Punjab FC in their final group game on Sunday.