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

Bengaluru FC bow out of Federation Cup

Federation Cup action between Bengaluru FC and Aizawl FC.

Bengaluru FC went down 2-3 against Aizawl FC in the second leg of the Round-of-8 encounter of the 2016 Federation Cup at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Tuesday night. The result saw the defending champions exit the competition, losing the tie 3-5 on aggregate. The first leg had ended 2-1 in favour of Aizawl FC.

A brace from Joel Sunday and a goal from David Lalrinmuana saw the side from the hills score three away goals. Bengaluru responded through an exquisitely taken CK Vineeth goal and a Sunil Chhetri penalty in the 74th minute.

Behind 1-2 on aggregate, Bengaluru FC began well, keeping possession and regularly foraying into the final third of the Aizawl half. In the 15th minute, Keegan Pereira’s swirling free kick from the right had Aizawl keeper Soram Poirei in a spot of bother but his weak punch ultimately fell kindly to his defender, who hacked away the danger.

The game sprung to life in the 26th minute when Nigerian striker Joel Sunday cut past right-back Nishu Kumar’s dive and sent a rising effort past Blues’ goalkeeper Amrinder Singh.

Bengaluru responded within minutes as a weak clearance off a Chhetri cross found Vineeth lurking just on the edge of the six-yard box. The forward swiveled stylishly before placing a thundering effort into the right corner, giving the Aizawl ‘keeper no chance.

With parity restored, the Blues looked a more cohesive unit, stringing passes and troubling the rival defence with a series of intelligent movements. However, Aizawl retook the lead in the 37th minute after Alfred Jaryan slipped in Sunday who rolled a low finish beneath the on-rushing Amrinder Singh.

Having gone down 2-3 on aggregate, the Blues threw numbers forward and the pressure created a couple of immediate openings. First, Vineeth tapped the ball straight into Poirei after Lyngdoh had flicked on a header. A couple of minutes later, Johnson’s header cannoned off the crossbar and his defensive colleague Curtis Osano was unable to turn in the rebound.

In the second half, Bengaluru were dealt an early blow as Aizawl skipper David Lalrinmuana struck in the 49th minute, sending a free kick into the corner of the net after Sunday was adjudged to have been fouled by Osano.

Ashley Westwood replaced Pereira with Chhuantea and Udanta Singh for Nishu Kumar and the move seemed to pay immediate dividends as the increased pace on the flanks added more potency to the attack.

Lyngdoh’s deliveries continued to trouble the Aizawl defence but a lack of accuracy in the final third held back the Blues from reducing the deficit. In the 74th minute, Brandon Vanlalremdika hauled down Udanta in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Sunil Chhetri smashed home the penalty, giving the hosts a brief ray of hope.

In the final 15 minutes, Bengaluru piled on the pressure with a couple of long-range efforts from Lyngdoh forcing Poirei into scrambles. Kim Song Yong came close with seven minutes to go but his cross across the face of goal evaded the outstretched foot of Sunil Chhetri.