THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Bengaluru FC boss Mohun Bagan in big win at Kolkata

Sean Rooney (Bengaluru FC)

Sean Rooney (Bengaluru FC)

Bengaluru FC turned on the heat in Kolkata with a clinical 0-2 defeat of Mohun Bagan at the Saltlake Stadium, on Sunday. A Thoi Singh header at the stroke of halftime and delightful volley from Sean Rooney on the hour mark was enough for Bengaluru to open a four-point gap over Salgaocar at the top of the table. The only blip in an otherwise perfect day for Bengaluru was the sending off of coach Ashley Westwood by referee Rahul D’Sa a minute before Bengaluru FC scored.

Bengaluru went into the game knowing well that any hiccup today would leave them with little breathing space after Salgaocar beat Pune FC on Friday to come within a point of the League leaders. But Westwood’s boys were a picture of control, soaking in all the pressure before striking and then seeing out the game.

Defender Curtis Osano and goalkeeper Pawan Kumar found their places in the starting XI after missing out on the game against Pune FC owing to suspensions while Westwood retained his attacking trio of Rooney, Robin Singh and Sunil Chhetri in a game Bengaluru had to win.

Bagan started with more of the possession but Bengaluru’s central defensive English pair of John Johnson and Osano – as they have been all season – were on top of their game, stuffing out Odafa Okolie without breaking a sweat.

Just as Bengaluru were getting comfortable, Westwood was given marching orders for allegedly arguing. But while most thought the incident would throw Bengaluru off balance given Westwood’s involvement in the game from the touchline, the Blues silenced the cheering home support with a finish that they would build on. Rooney, finding himself with the ball on the right, sent in a cross that saw Thoi leap over two defenders to place perfectly past ’keeper Shilton Paul.

Karim Bencherifa replaced an injured Paul with Sandeep Nandy at halftime but the new ’keeper had a forgettable half himself, playing part in Bengaluru’s second. Receiving a back pass, Nandy pressed the panic button when Robin pressed him, causing the ’keeper to clear straight to Rooney. The Australian, 25 yards out, brought the ball down with his chest before unleashing a scorching volley that beat Nandy all ends up.

With a two goal lead to protect for 30 minutes, Bengaluru played smart football, keeping possession and not shying to try for a third if the opportunity came knocking. One such perfect chance was disappointingly squandered By Robin. Picked out by Chhetri on the left, Robin found himself with only Nandy to beat but the striker – who worked hard all game – could only manage to hit within Nandy’s saving range.

The miss wouldn’t cause Bengaluru any nervous moments though, as Westwood’s boys saw the game through to earn a win that will surely be a vital memory in what has been a brilliant season for the club.