Express News Service
BENGALURU: After a below-par start to the season, Bengaluru FC have gradually grown into the season with the Blues enjoying an unbeaten seven-match streak, including a 3-0 win over Chennaiyin FC at the GMC Athletic Stadium on Wednesday. Goals from Iman Basafa (12′) and Udanta Singh (42′, 52′) helped them seal three points and move to sixth place with 17 points.
With key players like Udanta, Sunil Chhetri delivering the goods, these are good signs for a club, who are an improved unit. If Marco Pezzaiuoli’s men have delivered of late, Chennaiyin, who only lost a single game in their first six, have lost four in the next seven, which does not augur well for them.
It has to be said that both the teams were not at full strength on Wednesday. If Bengaluru did not have Cleiton Silva and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in the squad, Chennaiyin did not have the services of their star player Anirudh Thapa as well. What made it even more problematic for Chennaiyin was the lack of training sessions due to players in isolation. Bengaluru just named seven players in the bench, explaining their situation too.
The Blues piled early pressure with their team enjoying good possession, but it was Chennaiyin, who got the first big chance. They should have taken the lead after Parag Shrivas miscued his clearance, but Lukasz Gikiewicz’s close-range shot was brilliantly denied by goalkeeper Lara Sharma in the ninth minute. Three minutes later, Bengaluru were awarded a penalty, which was converted by Basafa, his first goal for the club.
Bengaluru, after taking the lead, were quite compact in defence. They did not provide their opponents free space, making life difficult for the likes of Gikiewicz and others upfront. Even when they had the ball on their feet, Chennaiyin players tried to test Lara in goal from 18 yards out or so, but he was not troubled much. Just three minutes before the break, some unselfish play by Chhetri, who took out four defenders in the box allowed Udanta a simple goal. In fact, the combination play between the two Indian players were praiseworthy throughout the contest.
With Chennaiyin trailing by two goals, they decided to bring in Rahim Ali with the hope of making a difference upfront at the start of the second half. However, things went from bad to worse as Udanta scored his second of the night to make it 3-0. It was always going to be an uphill task to come back from such a deficit, but Božidar Bandovic decided to bring on striker Nerijus Valskis.
In the second half, Chennaiyin did look decent on the ball, but their final pass was found wanting many times. Bengaluru had plenty of players in their own half to defend, making life difficult for Chennaiyin too. At the end, it was all smiles in the Bengaluru camp.
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