A familiar moment of magic from Eugeneson Lyngdoh set the Blues up nicely for a return leg of the AFC Cup semifinal after the midfielder’s equaliser in the 56th minute gave Bengaluru FC a 1-1 draw against reigning champions Johor Darul Ta’zim FC at a packed Larkin Stadium, in Malaysia, on Wednesday.
A resolute Bengaluru defence conceded early in the second half but Lyngdoh brought the Blues back to life four minutes later and more importantly, gave them a vital away goal to take back home to Bengaluru as the Indian champions ready for the second-leg at the Kanteerava on October 19.
Refusing to sit back and soak in the pressure as most would have expected them to do at the Larkin, the Blues began rather confidently, enjoying a better share of the possession and even creating a couple of half chances early on through Sunil Chhetri and CK Vineeth. Eugeneson Lyngdoh too came close in the 30th minute but his attempt to place the ball past ’keeper Mohd. Izham lacked sting and direction.
The hosts slowly gained a foothold in the exchanges and it took a brilliant save from Amrinder at point-blank range to deny Juan Lucero a headed opener. The Blues shot-stopper literally pulled the ball out before it crossed the goal line with what was easily the save of the game.
JDT had another big chance in the 37th minute when Mohd. Azinee decided to finish off his run with a strike that he should have put away only to shoot wide. Amrinder wasn’t done yet when he made himself big to keep out a strike from Lucero in the 44th minute.
But it was Lucero’s fellow Argentine striker Diaz who finally broke Amrinder when he nodded home a Safiq Rahim corner from close in the 52nd minute. It was important that Blues didn’t let their shoulders drop as they picked themselves up and were rewarded courtesy another moment of magic from Lyngdoh at the Larkin, just four minutes later. With the ball at his feet and no one challenging him, Lyngdoh let fly a strike with his left from 30 yards out, beating Izham all ends up and silencing the home crowd.
Earlier Roca rung in just one change from the team that drew 0-0 in Singapore last week, bringing in Salam Ranjan for Nishu Kumar as the Blues stacked up in a fluid 3-5-2 set-up. The hosts will be missing both Lucero and Diaz for the second leg after the strike pair picked up their second bookings in the knock-out stages.
(Bengaluru FC Press Release)