Five goals within the first 45 minutes at the Tilak Maidan gave the spectators enough thrills was proved enough to secure three points for Bengaluru FC. With this win the I-League Champions kicked off the 2014-15 Federation Cup with a victory. Despite goals from defender Gurjinder Kumar and forward Douhou Pierre, Salgaocar (“The Greens”) failed to capitalize on home conditions to give the home crowd something to cheer.
Fan favorite Siam Hanghal was left out of the starting XI, as new signing Eugeneson Lyngdoh was given his position in the heart of midfield. Pawan Kumar, perhaps Bengaluru’s best custodian found himself replaced by yet another new signing Lalthuammawia Ralte. Robin Singh and Darren Cladeira were other notable omissions.Josh Walker was handed his first official start and was assigned the difficult job of playmaker for captain and AIFF player of the year Sunil Chhetri. The Bengaluru defence looked as resolute as ever, as with John Johnson, Curtis Osano, Rino Anto and Keegan Pereira.
— Bengaluru FC (@bengalurufc) December 28, 2014
Having just completed his stint with Mumbai City F.C in the Hero ISL, Subrata Pal was deployed between the sticks, with captain Rocus Lamare in the heart of midfield, and prolific striker Daryl Duffy.
A feisty encounter was on the cards as the two teams locked horns at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Goa.
The men in blue make all the early running
Ashley Westwood’s high pressing, high octane and attacking formation and philosophy enabled the men in blue to stitch together a few passing movements within the first five minutes of the match. A flurry of corners and a few acrobatic heroics from Subrata Pal ensured that Salgaocar remained on level terms. Despite the one corner earned and a yellow card shown to Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Sunil Chhetri and company were relentless in their attack on Subrata Pal’s goal. The high pressure on the Salgaocar defence paid off as Bengaluru were awarded a penalty courtesy of a Sean Rooney shot clipping the fingers of Salgaocar defender Pawan Kumar. Despite the million demons separating the penalty spot and the back of the net, Sunil Chhetri slotted home the spot kick, giving his side a much deserved 1-0 advantage.
Salgaocar reply with a bang
Having been suppressed for most of the first half hour, Salgaocar managed to stitch a meaningful attack, an attack that eventually earned them a free-kick, 30 yards from the Bengaluru goal. Having a relatively quiet game thus far, debutant goalkeeper Ralte was indeed ready for his first real test. However, the readiness proved to be an understatement, as Salgaocar fullback Gurjinder Kumar found a way past the young custodian courtesy of a variation. With the match back on level terms, the Bengaluru dominance in the opposition half was well and truly over. The next few minutes saw sporadic attacks by both sides with all attacks fizzling out relatively quickly.
A flurry of goals to conclude the first half
Certainly nobody would have predicted a flurry of goals to conclude the remainder of the half. With a bit more than five minutes plus injury time left in the first half, Bengaluru found themselves in front once more courtesy of some excellent build up play by newbie Josh Walker in particular, aided by a piece of Sunil Chhetri magic, with the latter shooting the Blues back into the lead. However, there would be a massive cheer in the Tilak Maidan a few seconds later, as the Salgaocar response to the second Chhetri goal was almost instantaneous, courtesy of a powerful shot to the roof of the net from Douhou Pierre, giving goalkeeper Ralte absolutely no chance. With the score tied at 2-2, the crowd at the edge of their seats and both sides right back to where they started, However, barely three minutes later, Ashley Westwood’s men once again found themselves on the attacking front. A fine through ball from Sunil Chhetri found itself to Aussie striker Sean Rooney, who obliged and calmly slotted the ball past Subrata Pal to bring to an end what was an absolutely roller coaster first half.
Both sides playing a relatively tentative game
Following the absolutely crazy and intriguing first half, both sides looked a bit tentative in the second period, with Bengaluru creating the bulk of the chances.Ten minutes into the second half saw Josh Walker almost give the Blues a two goal cushion courtesy of a magnificent build up play with captain Sunil Chhetri. Soon after, the captain would see himself as well as winger Beikhokhei Beingaichhobe substituted for Robin Singh and C.K. Vineeth respectively. The second half withered away quickly, as Darren Cladeira was introduced for the final five minutes and stoppage time for the impressive debutant Eugeneson Lyngdoh.
The final score read 3-2 in favor of Bengaluru FC, although Salgaocar can take immense pride in the fact that they put up a fight, and gave the I-League champions a run for their money. Derrick Pereira too can take away a lot of positives away from the game, as his side will look for full points against Shillong Lajong on Wednesday. As for Ashley Westwod and his band of merry men, the Blues will be looking to carry on the momentum into Tuesday’s fixture against Mohun Bagan