A brace from Daniel McBreen saw Bengaluru FC succumb 2-0 to South China in the AFC Cup. In spite of putting up a decent performance, the Blues failed to capitalise. The loss now sees Ashley Westwood’s men knocked out of the AFC Cup.
Sunil Chhetri and John Johnson miss out
Sunil Chhetri was relegated to the bench as Robin Singh was handed a rare start. Deemed unfit through illness, John Johnson missed the trip entirely and Gurtej Singh was given a start in his place.
Bengaluru FC begin brightly
Playing on a terrible surface in the Hong Kong Stadium, there was a surprising change in tactics from the defending I-League champions. Realising that this was a one-off fixture, the Blues began passing the ball with Josh Walker at the heart of each pass. The new tactic, surprising as it was to many, bore fruit early on as Eugeneson Lyngdoh had a couple of cracks at the South China goal. From three shots taken from outside the penalty area, Lyngdoh managed to hit one on target but the Blues were unable to get on the board.
The best chance for the Blues came when Robin Singh latched onto a teasing cross from Keegan Pereira only for the South China defence to clear the danger. The game was less than twenty minutes old and the fortunes of the Blues were to take a turn for the worse.
Daniel McBreen converts penalty; South China carry lead into second half
23 year old Mahama Awal was perhaps the only South China player creating problems for BFC by his probing runs down the left flank. Awal’s constant attack finally paid dividends as the Chinese side were awarded a controversial penalty with 26 minutes gone. Although Curtis Osano’s challenge seemed clean, the referee refused to budge from his initial decision. Daniel McBreen successful conversion of the penalty saw South China take an early lead.
The response to going a goal down was outstanding. Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Shankar Sampingiraj kept nibbling away at the defence in the hope of creating a few chances. Sean Rooney came close to scoring on the cusp of half time but his sweet strike was palmed away by custodian Cristian Mora.
Thus ended a wonderful first half for both sides with South China boasting of a solitary goal advantage.
McBreen nets second; Blues rue missed chances
Running short of striking options, Sunil Chhetri was introduced in a bid to improve the finishing in the final third. His introduction proved to be a master stroke as the Blues began orchestrating meaningful attacks. However, in spite of the positive change, the finishing was still lacking. A lovely piece of link-up play between Robin Singh and Sean Rooney saw the latter smash the ball into the stands.
With Bengaluru failing to take their chances, Daniel McBreen netted his second goal on the hour mark. An unfortunate slip from Rino Anto saw a Lam Hok Hei cross tapped in by McBreen. With the score at 2-0, the Blues were in desperate need of a spark.
Substitutes fail to influence the game; South China hold on to claim victory
Siam Hanghal and CK Vineeth were introduced soon after the McBreen goal. The subs however failed to make any impact as the South China defence held firm, not allowing the likes of Robin Singh and Sunil Chhetri an inch.
A few insignificant chances for both sides eventually saw South China claim an impressive 2-0 win.
Match Summary: South China 2 (Daniel McBreen 28, 58) beat Bengaluru FC 0.