Bengaluru FC wrapped up an intriguing battle against their former head coach Carles Cuadrat’s East Bengal FC with a 2-1 win at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday. The Blues were put behind in the contest by Naorem Mahesh Singh, who struck a goal in the 15th minute. However, Sunil Chhetri converted a kick from the spot in the 21st minute before Javi Hernandez secured the winner with an acrobatic bicycle kick in the second half to seal the first victory of the season for Simon Grayson’s men.

Nanda Kumar carved open the Bengaluru FC backline with an impressive through ball that was gathered well by Mahesh 15 minutes into the game. Mahesh’s first touch and footwork helped him get past the home team’s centre-back pairing of Parag Srivas and Slavko Damjanovic. He then had only goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to get past and the attacker made light work of the same much to Cuadrat’s happiness.

However, the wave of optimism was short lived as Mandar Rao Dessai brought down Chhetri inside the 18-yard box to hand a spot-kick to the home team merely four minutes later. The 39-year-old was flawless as ever as he deposited the ball to the bottom right corner to draw the scores level at a crucial juncture in the first half.

The improved seamlessness of East Bengal FC’s offensive moves always kept them in the game. The duo of Mahesh and Nanda combined again in the second half to give their team a potential winning strike. Mahesh shifted wide and curled in a pass that eased past Bengaluru FC’s defensive line to land at Nanda’s feet on the left flank. However, the winger couldn’t keep his shot on target and ended up hitting way above the crossbar to blow away a well-crafted opportunity.

Eventually, Javi Hernandez pulled off an absolute entertainer to delight the home crowd and bag three points for his team in the 72nd minute. Young forward Rohit Danu frenetically managed to get the ball to the attacking midfielder through a headed pass. Hernandez chipped it up and then bicycle kicked it into the back of the net to sum up a move fitting of his delightful creativity and goal-scoring prowess. Hernandez broke into a cheerful celebration as Simon Grayson’s impeccable in-game management ensured that East Bengal FC couldn’t come close to equalising after that.

Key Performer of the Match

Javi Hernandez (Bengaluru FC)

Hernandez put in an all-round shift comprising two tackles, two crosses, one interception, and 76% passing accuracy to go with his wonderful overhead effort that stands a chance to contest for the goal of the season honour as well.

What’s next for both teams?

The next fixtures of both these teams will be against FC Goa. East Bengal will host the Gaurs on October 21 whereas Bengaluru will do so on October 25.

Brief Scores

Bengaluru FC 2 (Sunil Chhetri 21’, Javi Hernandez 72’) – 1 (Naorem Mahesh Singh 15’) East Bengal FC. 

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