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Bengaluru FC begin Durand Cup challenge with a win

Bengaluru FC v Mohammedan Sporting Club

Bengaluru FC v Mohammedan Sporting Club

Summer signing Eugeneson Lyngdoh scored in style on his Bengaluru FC debut as the I-League champions began their Durand Cup campaign with a 2-1 win over Mohammedan Sporting Club at the Raia Sports Complex, in Goa, on Thursday. Lyngdoh’s goal in the 38th minute came after skipper Sunil Chhetri was at his opportunistic best to give the Blues a lead as early as in the sixth minute.

While the final score suggested a game in which Bengaluru FC managed to edge out Mohammedan, the truth was far from it.
Ashley Westwood started with Robin Singh up front with Chhetri and Beikhokhei Beingaichho while Josh Walker led the midfield duties with Thoi Singh and Lyngdoh in tow. The Durand Cup rule of a team being allowed to field a maximum of two foreigners on the pitch meant the central defensive duties were shared by John Johnson and NS Manju.

Clearly a far more organised side than Mohammedan, Bengaluru got things together in the 6th minute when Chhetri was at hand to pounce on a mistake from defender Lal Daniela who failed to control a simple pass from fellow centre-back Gaur Naskar. Stealing the ball from Daniela, Chhetri sped into the box and fired past an understandably upset Arnab Das Sharma in goal.

Bengaluru should have had a few more before the half but poor choices and wayward finishing in the box let them down. But if the Blues’ first was opportunistic, the second was a perfectly orchestrated counter. Dealing with a Mohammedan corner, Keegan Pereira picked out Beingaichho on the right who exchanged a quick one-two with Chhetri before playing it back to him. The skipper put Thoi Singh through and his cross was met by Lyngdoh whose acrobatic volley was placed to perfection.

“It was a great feeling to get the chance to start. But to get off the mark in my first game was something I had wished for all the while. It was an extraordinary and an exciting feeling to say the least,” said Lyngdoh.

Westwood rung in a change at half time, introducing Udanta Singh for Beingaichho and on the hour mark, brought on Sean Rooney and CK Vineeth for Chhetri and Josh Walker. The changes didn’t waste time causing Mohammedan problems and Udanta may well have had a hat-trick on debut. The youngster was a livewire down the right, taking out defenders with his pace and skill but he wished his finishing on the given day would have been better.

Bengaluru seemed to be cruising till Alfred Jayran pulled one back for Mohammedan in the 68th minute. Receiving the ball on top of the box, Jayran chopped Lyngdoh before picking his corner to score. Robin Singh could have put the game to bed on a couple of occasions and his best chance came in added time where, after being put through by quick Keegan throw in, he did well to turn a defender. But his attempt to pick a spot and place home was awry.

Bengaluru did survive some anxious moments but had enough to see out the game. Westwood’s team play Goa side SESA FA in their final group fixture on November 3.