Goals from Danish Farooq and Cleiton Silva gave Marco Pezzaiuoli’s Bengaluru FC side a 2-1 comeback win over Odisha FC, to keep their hopes of a playoff spot in the Indian Super League alive, at the GMC Athletic Stadium, in Bambolim, on Monday. Nandha Kumar’s strike had given Kino Garcia’s visitors an early lead, before goals on either side of the break saw Bengaluru take full points in a fiercely contested encounter. The result meant Bengaluru climbed up to fifth place on the League table with 26 points from 18 games.
Pezzaiuoli made changes to the way he set up his Bengaluru side, handing a first start of the season to midfielder Ajay Chhetri with Naorem Roshan Singh returning from suspension. Elsewhere, Prince Ibara replaced Sunil Chhetri while Pratik Chaudhari was preferred over Cameroonian Yaya Banana.
Odisha meanwhile, made five changes to their side as Kamaljit Singh replaced Arshdeep Singh in goal while Nandha Kumar, Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Victor Mongil and Lalruatthara replaced Redeem Tlang, Aridai Cabrera, Gaurav Bora and Hendry Antonay.
Bengaluru started the livelier of the two sides as Roshan and Udanta, operating down the left, created problems for the Odisha backline. Roshan’s cutback for Ramires created the first chance of the game, but the Brazilian’s attempted shot was inches wide of the mark.
Against the run of play, the visitors took the lead when Issac Vanmalsawma’s pass found Jonathas de Jesus free in the box. Bengaluru ’keeper Lara Sharma came off his line to close the Brazilian down and make the save, but Nandha was at hand to slot home from close range on the rebound to give Odisha the lead with just eight minutes on the clock.
Bengaluru continued to push forward in search of an equaliser and found it on the half-hour mark when Roshan swung in a corner to find Danish unmarked at the far post. The midfielder’s header managed to sneak in past Kamaljit, giving the Blues their 18th goal from a set-piece this season.
Strikes from Ibara and Silva went wayward as Pezzaiuoli’s side continued to press for the lead, but Lara was called into action late in the first period after Javi Hernandez sent Nandha through. The striker, having beaten the ’keeper, could only find the side netting in his attempt to finish.
Into the second half, Bengaluru started the stronger of the two sides and were handed a chance to take the lead only four minutes in when Udanta was brought down in the box by Lalruatthara, prompting referee Senthil Nathan to point to the spot. Silva, in charge of the spot-kick in the absence of Chhetri, sent Kamaljit the wrong way to score his ninth goal of the season.
Pezzaiuoli rang in changes on the hour mark as Ibara and Bhutia were withdrawn to be replaced by Banana and Chhetri, while Odisha sent on Liridon Krasniqi and Aridai Cabrera in place of Jonathas and Mongil shortly after.
Fifteen minutes from time, Issac looked to have restored parity for the Juggernauts only for astute goalkeeping from Lara to save Bengaluru the blushes. The 22-year-old dived well to stop the midfielder’s first-time effort with a fingertip save that pushed the ball onto the woodwork and away from danger. Lara was called into action ten minutes later when Hernandez evaded his marker to nod a header on target, but the Blues’ custodian had his bases covered.
Odisha sent on Daniel Lalhlimpuia and Redeem Tlang on for the final minutes of regulation time and managed to create inroads but it wasn’t enough as a stubborn Bengaluru backline held on to the lead to claim three points.