Bengaluru FC stumbled to their first defeat in 12 matches with a 3-1 loss to Persipura Jayapura in the AFC Cup. In spite of going down by a goal in the first half, the Indonesian giants rallied to secure top spot in the group. BFC had already qualified for the next round of the AFC Cup.
Ashley Westwood fields surprisingly weakened side
In a surprising move, Ashley Westwood decided to field a significantly weakened unit against Persipura Jayapura. Sean Rooney, Sunil Chhetri, John Johnson, Josh Walker and Eugeneson Lyngdoh were left out. 20 year old Shankar Sampingiraj was handed the captain’s armband and NS Manju was handed his AFC Cup debut.
Persipura Jayapura coach Osvaldo Lessa stuck to the same squad that comprehensively beat Singapore Warriors by a 6-0 margin.
Persipura Jayapura on the attack
With the numbers game clearly tipped in the favour of the away side, it was not a surprise to see them on the attack. The Bengaluru defence found it impossible to cope with the finesse and trickery of Zulham Zamrun. The latter in fact had the first chance but his header was saved by the impressive Lalthuammawia Ralte. Robertino Pugliara and Boaz Solossa also came close in the opening exchanges.
Udanta Singh opens scoring
The silver lining of the opening 20 minutes was young Udanta Singh. The BFC lad had already given the Jayapura defence a warning with his blistering pace. Thus, it was not much of a surprise as he opened the scoring in the 24th minute. A wonderfully measured cross from Robin Singh saw the 18 year old slot in his first goal in a BFC shirt.
Pugliara nets stunner as Jayapura draw level
Barely 5 minutes following Udanta’s goal, Robertino Pugliara netted a screamer to draw level. The Argentine’s shot landed in the right-hand top corner, giving Ralte no chance whatsoever.
NS Manju came close to restoring the Bengaluru lead, only to be denied by the crossbar. Thus ended an entertaining first half with the scores tied at 1-1.
Wanggai and Solossa put result beyond Bengaluru
Similar to the first half, Persipura Jayapura took their time to find their feet on a wet Kanteerava pitch. The introduction of CK Vineeth for Robin Singh did little to increase the quality of the Blues’ play.
Midfielder Imanuel Wanggai put the Indonesian giants ahead with yet another brilliant goal. The strike rocketed past Ralte in a flash, giving the Bengaluru custodian absolutely no chance.
Boaz Solossa fired in a header from point blank range five minutes later to confirm victory for his side. The introduction of Sunil Chhetri and Eugeneson Lygdoh did little to inspire the Bengaluru outfit as the final score read 3-1 in favour of Persipura Jayapura.
In spite of the heavy loss, Ashley Westwood will surely take some positives from this game. Udanta Singh’s spirited performance has given many a Bengaluru fan something to smile about. While Udanta has been turning heads, the performances from the likes of Gurtej Singh and NS Manju were also commendable.