Skipper Sunil Chhetri had a penalty saved on the stroke of half-time as Bengaluru FC were held to a 0-0 draw at the Kanteerava Stadium, on Saturday.
Bengaluru’s big chance arrived a minute from half-time when Calum Angus, who only a minute earlier made a vital save off the line from a Rooney tap, brought down the Australian in the box prompting referee Ranjit Baksi to point to the spot. Chhetri stepped up but his unconvincing take came off ’keeper Laxmikant Kattimani’s leg before looping over the crossbar.
With influential midfielder Joshua Walker failing to recover from a thigh strain he picked up in the final of the Federation Cup, Ashley Westwood switched to what seemed like a 4-4-2, throwing Robin Singh and Rooney ahead while Chhetri joined Beikhokhei Beingaichho, Thoi Singh and Eugeneson Lyngdoh in the midfield.
Dempo had injury woes of their own that kept Haroon Amiri and Tolgay Ozbey out while Clifford Miranda featured on the bench.
The first half turned out to be a rather scrappy affair where neither of the teams had a clear chance at goal, spare Chhetri’s penalty. Minutes prior to Chhetri’s take, the Blues were denied another spot kick when Rooney was brought down in the box by Dempo defender Fulganco Cardozo. With neither team unable to break the deadlock, both teams went down the tunnel with the scores where they were at the start.
Dempo picked up the pace in the second half with winger Alwyn George, who replaced an injured Romeo Fernandes in the first half. The Goan side almost broke the deadlock when George swung past Curtis Osano and found himself unmarked on the right wing. The winger’s final cross could not find a Dempo body.
With ten minutes to the final whistle, Bengaluru had their first real opportunity of the half with Chhetri looking to make up for his penalty miss. Linking up with Rooney down the left flank, the 30-year-old striker skipped past his marker and feinted past a defender but his final shot was inches wide of Kattimani’s near post.
Despite long spells of possession, neither side was able to make it count in the final third as the points were shared at the final whistle.