Bengaluru FC sealed a 1-0 victory over Chennaiyin FC as the Southern Derby titled in favour of the Blues at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 tonight. A second-half strike by Ryan Williams was enough for Gerard Zaragoza and his side to triumph over the visitors in a clash that they dominated from the offset, and held an upper hand to a greater extent than suggested by the scoreline.

Zaragoza had claimed ahead of the game that he had almost a month’s time to train with this squad after taking over the reins from his predecessor Simon Grayson in December. The tactician hoped that the work put in the practice sessions would reflect on the field, but all of that expectation was squandered in their 3-1 loss to Punjab FC in New Delhi.

They needed a strong response and got one tonight with the team functioning in coordination and cohesion to build consistent pressure over the Marina Machans. From skipper Sunil Chhetri and Javi Hernandez combining for the former to attempt a shot from a unique set-piece to the latter trying his luck from the edge of the box – the first-half comprised a lot of entertaining action for the supporters at the Kanteerava.

Unfortunately, those efforts weren’t bearing tangible results, and hence the talk in their dressing room must have been to keep doing what they had been doing right so that Coyle's team could eventually be cracked. Encounters like these are often decided by fine margins and hence it appeared that Scottish striker Connor Shields could swing the game against the momentum when he tested Gurpreet Singh Sandhu from the left hand side of the 18-yard box merely minutes into the second half. However, decisiveness and certain efficiency was lacking in his endeavour, resulting in his team giving away an excellent opportunity to get an early lead.

Bengaluru FC got their act together straightaway, slowly pulling the strings to ensure that their efforts from the opening essay of the game didn’t go to waste. Chhetri and youngster Harsh Patre took a shot each from either side of the box soon afterwards, but the Chennaiyin FC backline got back just in time to avoid trouble. Unfortunately, they could not do so when Williams was set up with a beautiful through ball by Halicharan Narzary through the centre in the 62nd minute. Williams showed remarkable composure to put the ball past Debjit Majumder and prevent Chennaiyin FC from doing the double over Bengaluru FC this season.

Key Performer of the Match

Ryan Williams (Bengaluru FC)

Williams tackled thrice, crossed five times, and created one goal-scoring opportunity, in addition to completing 14 of his 17 attempted passes. However, his calm headedness inside the box was laudable as he beat Majumder with a sweet strike to secure three points for the home team.

What’s next for both teams?

Bengaluru FC will play Jamshedpur FC on February 11, whereas Chennaiyin FC will be clashing against Kerala Blasters FC on February 16 for their forthcoming fixture.

Brief Scores

Bengaluru FC 1 (Ryan Williams 62’) – 0 Chennaiyin FC

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