Blasters put the chances on a plate for Bengaluru and they said ‘yes’…
The 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) fixture between the two teams whose fan clubs have been at war on social media in the last few years delivered its promise to be an entertaining affair.
Going into the game, the Blues had just one win to their name but were unbeaten after four rounds. Blasters, on the other hand, were winless. At the end of the day, however, the game turned out to be a lesson handed to Blasters by the winning team on how to take chances when they present themselves.
Kibu Vicuna’s attack had been struggling and the former Mohun Bagan head coach responded to Gary Hooper’s sub-par displays by giving him additional support upfront. Jordan Murray partnered the former Celtic striker in an unconventional and certainly unusual 4-4-2 for the team. Rahul KP and Facundo Pereyra flanked the two strikers and in the absence of the injured Sergio Cidoncha and unfit Sahal Abdul Samad. Vicente Gomez and Jeakson Singh guarded the midfield.
The first few minutes were okay and Blasters were doing a good job of keeping the game alive. In the 17th minute, the Blues committed too many players forward for a corner and were hammered on a lightning-quick counter-attack. It was initiated by Hooper who dribbled almost the length of the pitch from his own box before releasing Rahul into the box. The Malayali winger finished the move in style and gave Blasters the lead.
Everything looked rosy for a little over 10 minutes before disaster struck. Costa Nhamoinesu’s red card suspension meant Vicuna had to make a decision as to who would partner Bakary Kone at centre-back. He had Abdul Hakku, who is a natural centre-back but he chose Lalruatthara, who has shone as a full-back but knows the centre-back role too. The move backfired.
Ruatthara, in just his 14th start since the glittering 2017-18 season in which he won the ISL Emerging Player of the Year award, made a mess of a straightforward clearance and allowed Cleiton Silva to snatch the ball and hit the net.
The Blues kept pushing forward after the restart and took their chances efficiently. There was no one to track Ashique Kuruniyan as he received the ball on the left and drilled a low cross into the centre of the box which was guided into the net by Kristian Opseth. Minutes later, Albino Gomes’ poor backpass was received by Ruatthara who was dispossessed by Cleiton Silva again. Silva squared it to Opseth and he left it for Dimas Delgado who caressed the ball into the net with a good finish.
Blasters pulled one back when Vicente Gomez’s flick found its way past Gurpreet after Murray interfered with the play as the ball travelled across the goal. The goal wasn’t disallowed although the striker was offside – even that couldn’t inspire a Blasters comeback.
4 – This is the second time @bengalurufc have scored 4 goals in an @IndSuperLeague match. The first time was against Delhi Dynamos during the 2017-18 season of the #HeroISL . Domination. #LetsFootball #BFCKBFC pic.twitter.com/Jr6rlHU88U
— OptaJeev (@OptaJeev) December 13, 2020
Sunil Chhetri had attempted a panenka penalty and failed in the second half after Kone fouled Opseth inside the box. However, he made amends by easily getting the better of right-back Prasanth inside the box as he headed in a cross from Khabra.
The story was over before the full-time whistle was blown. It was anticlimactic in a way after the build-up ahead of the fixture. In the end, Bengaluru made it five wins in seven games against Blasters and reiterated who’s the boss in the south.