Bengaluru FC’s charge for a playoff spot took a blow at the JN Stadium in Fatorda, as NorthEast United came from behind to claim a 2-1 win, on Friday. Brazilian striker Cleiton Silva’s goal gave the Blues the lead, only for strikes from Deshorn Brown and substitute Laldanmwaia Ralte.
Earlier, Pezzaiuoli handed starts to Namgyal Bhutia and Lara Sharma while Cameroonian defender Yaya Banana made his full debut for Bengaluru, having come off the bench in their last encounter against Hyderabad FC. While the Blues missed Naorem Roshan Singh, who picked up his seventh yellow card in that encounter, NorthEast United were without the suspended Gurjinder Kumar.
Bengaluru made all the early noise as Cleiton Silva marshalled the attack, flanked by Udanta Singh and Sunil Chhetri. The Highlanders continued to sit compact, in their attempt to break free on the counter. The first real chance of the game fell to the hosts, when Joe Zoherliana’s cross fell for Imran Khan, but the winger’s header was off target.
The Highlanders had another chance just moments later when Parag Shrivas, deputising down the left in place of Roshan, lost possession and allowed VP Suhair to slip Brown through, but the Jamaican’s effort went crashing out of play off the crossbar.
Pezzaiuoli made his first change of the game as Wungngayam Muirang replaced Parag half an hour in. Only moments later, the Blues had their best chance of the game when Bhutia drove into the box and found Cleiton in a pocket of space, but the Brazilian’s effort was straight at Mirshad Michu.
Into the second period, it was the hosts that had the first chance once again when Hernan Santana swung in a free-kick that missed the crowd in the box and seemed to be creeping in but for a save from Lara. Michu was called into action once again when Udanta found Chhetri in a pocket of space but the skipper’s strike bounced off target after the NorthEast custodian closed him down to make the save.
Bengaluru would take the lead in the 66th minute when, after being slipped through by Muirang, Danish swung a cross into the six-yard box. Silva, sensing the opportunity, charged into a pocket of space between Patrick Flottman and Zakaria Diallo to stab home past Michu.
However, less than ten minutes later, the Highlanders pulled level through Brown who climbed higher than Banana to glance a cross from Zoherliana past a rooted Lara. In their attempt to restore the lead, Bengaluru gave away a second goal just ten minutes from the final whistle when substitute Marcelinho Leite’s shot from a tight angle was saved by Lara, but for an arriving Laldanmawia Ralte to score from close range.
Bengaluru pushed forward in their search for an equalizer late into the game, but came up against a resolute NorthEast backline who saw out the game and with it, claimed three points.