Rane strike takes Bengaluru FC into the AFC Cup Group D-South Zone
Bengaluru FC have qualified for the AFC Cup (Group D, South Zone) after registering a 1-0 win over Club Eagles at the National Stadium in Male (Maldives) on Sunday evening. New signing Jayesh Rane scored the winner in the 26th minute of the game. The Blues now join fellow Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) side ATK Mohun Bagan, Maldives’ Maziya Sports & Recreation and Bangladesh’s Bashundhara Kings in Group D which kicks off on August 18 with their match against the Mariners.
⦁ Jayesh Rane scored in the 26th minute of the game.
⦁ Leon Augustine came close to making it 2-0 in the 84th minute.
⦁ Bengaluru FC’s new signings gave a good account of themselves.
The first real threat from Bengaluru FC came in the 11th minute of the game. Cleiton Silva whipped a nice ball in from a corner and Alan Costa nodded it to a dangerous area where Yrondu Musavu-King headed it goalwards only to find the Maldivian goalkeeper Mohamed Faisal.
The very next minute, Bengaluru FC made another good move. Skipper Sunil Chhetri ran in from the left and put the ball in deftly from the edge of the box. Silva stretched himself aerially and managed to meet the ball but he wasn’t in control of his effort and the ball sailed over the crossbar.
A few minutes later, the Eagles got an opportunity of their own and Ismail put the ball in the back of the net but he was adjudged offside to the great relief of the Blues. Marco Pezzaiuoli’s team kept the pressure up though and it was not long before they went ahead in the contest.
The 2018-19 Hero ISL champions broke the deadlock in the 26th minute and it came rather in an innocuous way. A throw-in from Sarthak Golui into the box came off the head of a Maldivian player and the ball fell to an unmarked Rane who made no mistake and beat the goalkeeper to put the Blues in the ascendency.
In the 44th minute, a big scare came Bengaluru FC’s way though. A Maldivian corner into the box and Golui almost scored an own goal as the ball perilously came off his foot. The Blues had their goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and his alertness plenty to thank for the narrow escape. This was the last real action of the first half and both the teams headed into the break with the score reading 1-0 in favour of the Blues.
Bengaluru FC may have had some nervous moments in the first half but in the second they were completely at the top of their defensive game. They controlled the game right from the re-start and didn’t give any opportunity whatsoever for the Maldivians to come back. All this until the 67th minute when the Eagles came dangerously close to scoring: after dodging successfully two Bengaluru FC defenders, a Maldivian attacker failed to finish to perfection as his shot went off target.
Ashique Kuruniyan was replaced shortly. He had picked up an injury in the first half but showed great courage in the face of it till it became unbearable. Roshan Singh Naorem took his place.
In the 84th minute, Bengaluru FC got close to scoring their second goal of the game. Chhetri found substitute Augustine in the box but the latter’s curler narrowly went over the crossbar. The Maldivians tried hard to get the equaliser in the last few minutes but the Blues defenders were equal to the task and helped Pezzaiuoli win his second successive game in charge.