Bengaluru held onto their one-goal lead to secure three points against Chennaiyin…
Indian Super League (ISL) matches between Bengaluru and Chennaiyin always had something in store for not only the fans but also for the neutral football lovers in the country.
It is an interesting fixture because both teams are usually very wary of each other. In the seven head-to-head fixtures before Friday’s clash, both teams had won three games each and registered one stalemate.
Heading into the matchday, Chennaiyin had one win to their name and the Blues had none after two matches. While Chennaiyin had gotten off to fast starts in their first two matches, the Blues had looked overly defensive.
On Friday, when the game finally kicked off, neither team wanted to concede the first goal. They were both unwilling to leave space behind for the opponent to attack and refused to push more numbers forward into the final third. As a result, it made for a cagey affair featuring an intense midfield battle.
On a night where the experienced players like Sunil Chhetri and Cleiton Silva failed to meet the expected levels of performance, it was young midfielder Suresh Wangjam who stood out for the Blues. He was excellent throughout the game, ready to tackle, run with the ball and intercept at the right times.
Bengaluru dealt with Chennaiyin’s attacks but they were helped by an unfortunate injury to Anirudh Thapa early on in the game. Edwin Vanspaul was his replacement but Chennaiyin’s aggression lacked the usual fervour. It was Vanspaul who dived into an ill-timed challenge that gifted a penalty from which Chhetri scored.
Ashique Kuruniyan, who remains a left-back under Carles Cuadrat, could have had an early bath for persistent fouling in the initial phase. The Malayali winger-turnt-full-back’s discipline and positional issues have cost the Blues in the past but he continues to be a left-back.
Kuruniyan also should have conceded a penalty when Rafael Crivellaro’s header struck his outstretched arm inside the penalty box but the referee thought otherwise.
Chennaiyin pressed hard in the second half and were arguably the stronger team towards the end. But from the first three matches, it had been the defensive side of Bengaluru that has kept them going.