Marco Pezzaiuoli and his Bengaluru FC side bowed out of the race for a spot in the 2021-22 Indian Super League playoffs with a 2-0 defeat to ATK Mohun Bagan, at the JN Stadium, in Fatorda, on Sunday. Goals at the end of each half – from Liston Colaco and Manvir Singh – were enough to see the Mariners through, as Bengaluru’s late charge for a playoff spot came to an end with one game left to play in the League stages.
Earlier, Pezzaiuoli handed a second consecutive start to Ajay Chhetri in midfield as Ashique Kuruniyan made his return from injury. In attack, Bengaluru had Cleiton Silva, Prince Ibara, Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh start together for the first time in the League this season.
Bengaluru began quick off the blocks and had their first chance of the game in just the seventh minute when Ashique’s cross into the box found the head of Ibara, but the Congolese striker’s nod went wide of Amrinder Singh’s frame.
Ashique was in the thick of the action once again when he wriggled free of the attention and saw an effort come off the arm of Pritam Kotal, but referee Harish Kundu waved away shouts for a spot-kick.
Despite Bengaluru’s eight attempts in the first period, it was the Mariners that took the lead with what was virtually the last kick of the half. Brought down by Ajay Chhetri five yards outside the area, Liston’s free-kick travelled in its wake to evade Lara’s outstretched arm and give Juan Ferrando’s side the advantage.
Bengaluru pushed forward in their search of an equaliser and Pezzaiuoli rang in four changes on the hour mark. Leon Augustine, Rohit Kumar, Yaya Banana and Namgyal Bhutia made their way onto the pitch, replacing Parag Shrivas, Ashique Kuruniyan, Prince Ibara and Ajay Chhetri.
Bengaluru were pegged back once again five minutes from regulation time when a back-pass from Rohit found Manvir in the final third. The ATKMB winger skipped past his marker and saw his attempt from distance evade Lara’s outstretched arm to double the Mariners’ lead.
Rohit’s attempt to make amends at the other end in injury time saw Amrinder Singh pull a fine save, as the ATK Mohun Bagan defence held fort to see out their clean sheet and three points in the process.
Bengaluru take on SC East Bengal in their final encounter of the 2021-22 Indian Super League campaign, at the Tilak Maidan, in Vasco, on Saturday, March 5th.