Shankar Sampngiraj scored the fastest goal in the I League and CK Vineeth followed up a wonderful performance as Bengaluru FC beat Pune FC 2-0 at the Balewadai Sports Complex. The Blues were looking for redemption as well as reigniting their title challenge. This is the first win for Ashley Westwood and his men against Pune FC.
Ashley Westwood relegated skipper Sunil Chhetri to the bench in anticipation of future fixtures and fatigue. CK Vineeth was handed a rare start as a result. A red card in his previous match meant that Robin Singh missed out the fixture entirely. Darko Nikac and Ishfaq Ahmed were the only notable absentees for Pune FC.
Shankar Sampingiraj opens scoring; Scores fastest goal ever in I League
The heavyweight fixture exploded to life with a Shankar Sampingiraj goal. The lively CK Vineeth exhibited his lightning pace as he closed down the Pune defenders in no time. A cut back to Eugeneson Lyngdoh saw the latter’s cross met by an advancing Shankar Sampingiraj. Thus, with 13 seconds played, the Blues were up a goal.
Nikhil Kadam shines for Pune
Clearly shocked, the Pune side led by Arata Izumi gathered their bearings and began attacking. While the Blues dominated posession for the most part, the home side succeeded in creating the bulk of the chances. Among the solid performers was 20 year old Nikhil Kadam. Apart from top notch-set piece delivery, Kadam was successful in creating problems for John Johnson and Curtis Osano. His world class trickery and shooting abilities almost secured an equalizer for Pune FC. Thongkhosiem Haokip failed to meet a Zohmingliana Ralte cross.
CK Vineeth extends lead towards end of first half
Makeshift forward CK Vineeth found the back of the net towards the end of the first half. Against the run of play, CK Vineeth played a give and go with Beikho Beingaichho as he creamed the ball past Arminder Singh. Thus, the first half concluded with the score at 2-0 in favour of Bengaluru FC.
Both sides create chances in goalless second half
A goalless second half was not short on entertainment. Karim Bencherifa went for broke as he introduced Edgar Marcelino and Srikanth Ramu. While it reignited a dormant attacking unit of Pune FC, the defence became vulnerable. Thus, Eugeneson Lyngdoh secured the best chance of the second half for the Blues. A wonderfully worked variation with Sunil Chhetri and Beikho Beingaichho saw Eugene squander a one-on-one against Arminder Singh.
Prakash Thorat too had a one-on-one, but was delightfully saved by Lalthuammawia Ralte. Therefore, the match ended with the Blues sealing a 2-0 win.
Apart from celebrating their first win over Pune FC, Ashley Westwood’s men will be aware of their title chances. The win sees them leapfrog the Red Lizards into third position. Bengaluru FC are now three points behind Mohun Bagan and one point behind second placed Royal Wahingdoh.