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

Bengaluru make statement with 4-2 win over Mumbai City FC

Indian Super League (ISL)

Bengaluru FC kept their hunt for a spot in the Indian Super League playoffs going with a 4-2 win over Mumbai City FC, at the GMC Stadium, in Bambolim, on Monday. Cleiton Silva and Sunil Chhetri were on target for the Blues, scoring twice each, while Adam Le Fondre led the fightback for the Islanders, scoring a brace of his own in what was a fixture peppered with exciting moments.

Naushad Moosa made three changes to the side that lost to ATK Mohun Bagan as Xisco Hernandez made his first start since joining. Parag Shrivas and Cleiton Silva were the other two additions to the starting eleven as Kristian Opseth, Pratik Chaudhari and Rahul Bheke made way. Sergio Lobera, meanwhile, made two changes to his side as Vignesh Dakshinamurthy and Raynier Fernandes returned to replace Mandar Rao Dessai and the suspended Hugo Boumous.

Bengaluru started in the best possible way, taking the lead with less than half a minute on the clock. Chhetri’s ball over the Islanders’ defence found Undata Singh on the right, and the winger’s low drive into the box was buried into the roof of the goal by Silva to put the Blues 1-0 up.

Raynier Fernandes and Adam Le Fondre had chances to get Mumbai back on level terms when they managed to break free of the Blues’ defence, but neither could get a shot on target. The end-to-end action continued when Amrinder Singh was called to make two good saves to stop the Blues from adding another goal. First when Chhetri intercepted a pass from Bipin Singh and took a shot from 25 yards out that the MCFC custodian managed to parry. Only six minutes later, Amrinder did well to push away an Erik Paartalu effort from the edge of the box.

Bengaluru managed to double their lead in the 22nd minute when Cleiton scored his second of the game, nodding home a Xisco set-piece. The Spaniard’s delivery into the box was met by the Blues’ number 23 at the near post, and his header managed to find its way past a hapless Amrinder.

Bengaluru had to work hard to keep their two-goal cushion heading into the break as Gurpreet Singh Sandhu reacted well in the 36th minute to get his palm to Mourtada Fall’s effort from a free kick, pushing it over the bar.

The home side reduced the deficit four minutes into the second half when Le Fondre managed to divert Cy Goddard’s low cross past Gurpreet to make it 2-1. The Blues’ no. 1 then managed to make another fantastic save to deny Mumbai City and Fall.

Moosa’s men restored their two-goal lead when Chhetri, making his 200th appearance for the Blues, got to the end of Gurpreet’s punt and turned away from Hernan Santana before finishing low past an onrushing Amrinder.

Heading into the final quarter of the game, MCFC pulled one back again when Le Fondre nodded Goddard’s floated cross over Gurpreet and into the far corner to make it 3-2. Five minutes before time, Le Fondre slipped through into space and had time at his mercy, but the Englishman’s effort was saved well by Gurpreet, who stuck his foot out to deny the Mumbai forward.

Bengaluru managed to block everything that MCFC threw at them, and deep into stoppage time added a fourth to the board to seal the points. Substitute Edmund Lalrindika turned his marker on the halfway line and set the skipper free, who raced up the field and finished with aplomb past Amrinder. The result sends the Blues up to sixth place on the table, two points adrift of the final playoff spot.

Bengaluru FC next face FC Goa, at the Fatorda, on February 21.

(Bengaluru FC)