Harmanjot Singh Khabra’s first goal for the club and a Sunil Chhetri finish was enough to make light work of away conditions and an injury-hit squad as Bengaluru FC coasted to a 2-0 win over Shillong Lajong FC to move to fourth on the I-League points table at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Shillong, on Saturday.
In a first half bereft of much action, Bengaluru took the lead in the 26th minute with a move that involved three attacking players. Jugovic’s pass back to Alwyn George was threaded through for Chhetri, who after a confident first touch, slotted home past the dive of a hapless Vishal Kaith in the Lajong goal. Roca’s men had a chance to double their lead when Juanan Gonzalez’s rare foray into the opposition half saw him steal the ball from Lajong midfielder Yuta Kinowaki but the Spaniard’s shot from distance was saved by Kaith.
The home side’s best chance of the half came from a free-kick taken by Issac Vanmalsawma that found the head of League top-scorer Aser Pierrick Dipanda, but the nod was wide of Blues’ ’keeper Arindam Bhattacharya’s frame.
The Blues started the second half where they left off and it took just four minutes to double the lead as a deep cross from Nishu, after some fantastic build-up play from the back, was headed home by Khabra for his first goal in a Blues’ shirt. Lajong brought on Brazilian striker Fabio Pena but John Johnson, Juan and Salam Ranjan kept things clean at the back through the game.
Chhetri could have had a second in the 65th minute when he thumped his header from a Cameron Watson corner, just wide. In the second half, Lajong came closest to goal in the 90th minute when Issac looked to sneak in a strike into the top corner but Bhattacharya was equal to the task as Bengaluru went on to make it three clean sheets in as many games across competitions.
Earlier, coach Albert Roca handed Serbian Jugovic his first start in over a month while Arindam Bhattacharya came in for an injured Amrinder Singh. The Spaniard’s three-man defence comprised Johnson, Juan and Ranjan with Nishu Kumar given the freedom to run down the left.
The Blues, who now have two home games to end the League with, host Abahani Dhaka from Bangladesh in an AFC Cup group stage fixture on Tuesday.
(Bengaluru FC Press Release)