Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC asserted their dominance over Kerala Blasters with a 1-0 win against Eelco Schattorie’s side at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Saturday. Sunil Chhetri’s header in the 55th minute was the solitary goal in a result that sends Carles Cuadrat Blues to second place on the table with nine points from five games. A packed Kanteerava witnessed the clash as 27,083 spectators thronged the stands, a record attendance for a Bengaluru FC game in the city.
Cuadrat’s only change to the side that started against Chennaiyin FC two weeks ago, was one in defence. Rahul Bheke, who sustained a muscle injury while on international duty didn’t get the green signal from the medical team, prompting the Blues’ boss to start Albert Serran alongside Juanan Gonzalez in a back-four that had Harmanjot Khabra slot in at right-back.
Kerala, meanwhile, began the game with Bartholomew Ogbeche and Raphael Bouli in attack, ahead of two lines of four where Schattorie decided to leave new signing Vlatko Drobarov and Sahal Abdul Samad on the bench.
Usually fluent from the get-go, Bengaluru took more time than usual to build a rhythm of any sort, in a first half that neither side could claim they owned. The hosts did create a few half-chances, but they remained just that.
And when the Blues did put the ball in the back of the net, it was taken away by an erroneous call from the assistant referee. Chasing down a ball on the right, Udanta sent in a cross that Raphael Augusto powered in with a header in the 28th minute, only for the goal to be disallowed as Ranjit Bakshi’s assistant deemed the ball to have rolled out of play when the winger whipped it in. The replays, however, showed it was the wrong call.
Needing to do things differently if they were to take control of the game, Bengaluru started the second half just the way Cuadrat would have ordered them to at half time. The ball was moved around with more composure and in a matter of minutes, Kerala were panicking at the back. Bengaluru sensed a breakthrough and Chhetri delivered it in the 55th minute, meeting Dimas Delgado’s take from the corner with a diving header that TP Rehenesh could only watch fly into the corner.
Looking to gain a further stronghold on the game, Cuadrat introduced striker Semboi Haokip for Khabra. The change saw Nishu move to the right-back position, Ashique slot in at left in defence and Chhetri go wide left.
The Blues were close to getting a second in the 74th minute when Augusto looked to place a cut-back from Udanta past Rehenesh. But the Kerala ’keeper did really well to keep the goal-bound shout out with his foot. Bengaluru kept pushing forward for a second and could have had one late in the game as Rehenesh’s miscued clearance allowed Augusto to send Dimas free, but the Spaniard’s shot from inside the box was blocked away.
Bengaluru next travel to face Hyderabad FC on November 29th.