A young Bengaluru FC side fought hard but went down 1-2 to East Bengal Club in a thrilling Durand Cup clash at the Saltlake Stadium in Kolkata on Wednesday. The Blues who took the lead through midfielder Ajay Chhetri (17′) were done in by a second half double from substitute Bidyashagar Singh (59′,74′) who fired the home side into the semifinals of the competition.
Going into the second game after a long break, Naushad Moosa opted to start with the same line up from the opener against a full-strength East Bengal. The Kolkata-giants named three foreigners in Jaime Santos Colado, Kassim Aidara and Borja Perez in their Starting XI with Marti Crespi on the bench.
In what turned out to be an end-to-end affair, it was East Bengal who began with an all-out attack strategy, as the Blues managed to keep their calm at the back. The home side had an early chance inside the first ten minutes when the referee Tejas Nagvenkar awarded them an indirect freekick in the Bengaluru FC box for Parag Shrivas’ challenge on Colado. The shot from Lalrindika Ralte that followed, was blocked well by the wall.
Meanwhile, at the other end, the Blues took the lead after an intelligent interchange between Namgyal Bhutia and Leon Augustine on the right saw the latter run clear and get into the box. The pacy winger cut past his marker before threading in a neat through ball to Edmund Lalrindika, but the striker’s attempt from close range came off the vertical. Ajay who made a run from the middle, fired home a low shot on the rebound past former BFC ‘keeper Lalthuammawia Ralte in the East Bengal goal to break the deadlock and hand Bengaluru FC a well-deserved lead in the 17th minute.
Moosa’s boys managed to control most of the proceedings in the latter part of the first half, keeping East Bengal’s attack at bay while holding on to their lead firmly.
The Blues began the second half in shaky fashion and allowed the home side to put on pressure. East Bengal meanwhile capitalised on a few poor passes in the BFC half and tested Aditya Patra in the goal. While the custodian managed to thwart most attempts, he was finally beaten when substitute Bidyashagar Singh, on for Boithang Haokip at the break, netted on a counter attack to level scores.
Needing a win to stay alive in the competition, the Blues began pushing ahead in search of a goal, but were caught at the back when East Bengal scored on another counter attack. Once again it was the substitute Bidyashagar who raced past Gursimrat Singh and Sairuat Kima before beating Patra and sealing a 2-1 victory.
Bengaluru FC now play against Jamshedpur FC in their final game of the campaign at the Saltlake Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.