BENGALURU: Skipper Sunil Chhetri led from the front firing in both the goals as defending champions Bengaluru FC reignited their climb to the top shocking table-toppers FC Goa 2-1 in a crucial Indian Super League match here on Friday night.
It was the visitors, who were on a four-game winning streak, who ticked most of the boxes and controlled the game for long periods. But they couldn’t prevent Chhetri from scoring his sixth and seventh goals of the league as he singlehandedly got his squad off the ropes with two superb finishes in the second half.
The match, like a heavyweight boxing bout, saw the Gaurs throw all the punches but it was Bengaluru who managed to land the knockout blows that helped them maintain their stranglehold over Goa. It was the Blues’ fifth win against Goa. They are now unbeaten against Goa in six matches.
The hosts took the lead against the run of play when Chhetri headed in the opener in the 59th minute. The BFC fans, who were mostly quiet till then, jumped up in joy as an unmarked Chhetri turned the tide.
The visitors responded well and equalised in two minutes. Frenchman Hugo Boumous, who saw many of his assists being wasted in the first half, sped in through the left past all the defenders and easily beat BFC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu from close.
Despite conceding the equalizer, Chhetri’s goal had given BFC a new spring in their stride and young Ashique Kurunian was determined to prove his critics wrong. The youngster, who didn’t have any assists or goals to show for in 10 matches, sent a superb through pass to Chhetri on a counter. With most of the Goa defence moving up, the 35-year-old turned on his afterburners and sped past the backtracking defenders and slotted in the winner in the 84th minute.
The win, their fifth, took BFC to 19 points from 11 matches. They are now just two behind Goa. ATK, who take on Mumbai on Saturday, are third with 18 points in 10 matches.
Earlier, the first half promised much but the action between last year’s finalists failed to live up to the expectations. It was the visitors who held the upper hand, dictating the flow and pace of the match. They threatened repeatedly as Bengaluru struggled to stem the flow of attacks.
In the 23rd minute, Goa’s top-scorer Corominas promised much as he drove in through the centre. But in the end, he failed to get past the crowded defence who somehow managed to avert the danger. Medio Lenny Rodrigues too cursed his luck as he failed make use of two fine chances. In the 40th minute, Rodigues failed to capitalise on a fine through ball from Boumous and five minutes later he failed to score with only Sandhu to beat.
The hosts had their best chance in the 11th minute when overlapping defender Rahul Bheke fired in a powerful shot which was tipped over by Goa custodian Mohammad Nawaz.
Result: At Bengaluru: BFC 2 (Sunil Chhetri59, 84) bt FC Goa 1 (Hugo Boumous 61).