Bengaluru FC triggered the perfect turnaround to their Indian Super League campaign as goals from Erik Paartalu (14’), Sunil Chhetri (25’) and substitute Semboi Haokip (84’) sank fierce foes Chennaiyin FC 3-0 at a packed Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Sunday. Coming into the game having drawn three on the spin, Carles Cuadrat’s men put on quite the show to bag their first win of the season, and move to fifth position on the table with seven points after four games.
Setting up in a 4-2-3-1 with an Indian front-three that had Ashique Kuruniyan operating on the left in attack for the first time since joining the Blues, as Chhetri moved to a central role. Carles Cuadrat welcomed the return of Erik Paartalu, with Albert Serran missing out after his injury sustained in Jamshedpur last week. Paartalu’s return allowed Dimas Delgado and Raphael Augusto freedom in attack, as the Blues took the game to the visitors from the get go.
Relentless in their pursuit of an early opener, Bengaluru were asking the kind of questions that Chennaiyin struggled to find the right responses to. Paartalu nodded a long throw from Rahul Bheke straight down the throat of Vishal Kaith in the 3rd minute, and the Chennaiyin ’keeper was pressed into making another save minutes later when he stuck a leg out to keep Juanan Gonzalez’s goal-bound attempt from sneaking in. It looked ominously close to being the kind of night when Bengaluru do everything but score, when Chhetri met Udanta Singh’s cross on the bounce with a diving header only to see it go out off the post.
But Paartalu wasn’t having any of it, when he chose to mark his 50th appearance in a Bengaluru shirt by rising high to head home Dimas Delgado’s take in the 14th minute and make it 1-0. The Blues had missed the Aussie for the opening three fixtures with an ankle injury, and Paartalu showed a packed Fortress just how much he brings to the pitch.
Before John Greogory’s men could engineer a comeback, they were dealt a body blow, this time by a masterclass from the Sunil Chhetri school of finishing. Picking his captain’s run down the middle with a delicate chip, Raphael Augusto stood back and watched as Chhetri – leaving Lucian Goian and Eli Sabia in his wake – smashed home his finish on the half-volley to make it 2-0 in twenty five minutes.
Bengaluru had several chances heading into the break, and began the second half with the same vigour, sensing the need for a third. Augusto and Dimas controlled things in the middle while Paartalu sat back and connected the lines for Bengaluru. With the game ebbing away, Cuadrat threw on Semboi to replace Nishu and the striker turned up with a strike of his own to secure the points for the Blues, with minutes left to play in regulation time.
With Eli Sabia shielding the ball ahead of him, Semboi managed to outmuscle the Brazilian and poked home through the legs of Vishal Kaith to make it 3-0. Bengaluru will next face Kerala Blasters FC at the Kanteerava Stadium on November 23rd.