Bengaluru FC on Friday registered their first win of the ongoing Indian Super League (ISL) season as they defeated arch-rivals Chennaiyin FC 1-0 in a heated encounter at the GMC Stadium in Goa.
A 56th minute penalty from Bengaluru FC skipper Sunil Chhetri was the only difference between the two teams. Chhetri’s penalty also proved to be the cause of Chennaiyin’s maiden defeat in ISL 2020-21.
To add salt to their injury, Chennaiyin saw one of the pillars of the midfield, Anirudh Thapa, limping off the ground after suffering a injury off a tackle from Ashique Kuruniyan in just the 16th minute of the match.
Chennaiyin made just one change to the XI that drew with Kerala Blasters, as Jerry Lalrinzuala replaced Chhuantea Fanai. Bengaluru coach Carles Cuadrat made three changes — Kristian Opseth, Udanta Singh and Fran Gonzalez were replaced by Deshorn Brown, Dimas Delgado and Rahul Bheke.
The match was off to a rough start with Kuruniyan flying into a rash challenge on Deepak Tangri minutes after he tackled Thapa and received a yellow card. Chennaiyin dominated the first 20 minutes of the match but Thapa’s departure seemed to swing the momentum Bengaluru’s way.
Around the half-hour mark, Cleiton Silva found Bheke unmarked inside the box, but his header was off target. Seven minutes later, Juanan had a chance to head in from Silva’s cross, but only managed to divert it into Chennaiyin goalkeeper Vishal Kaith’s hands.
The second period started with a flurry of fouls, freekicks and yellow cards. Rafael Crivellaro, Suresh Wangjam and Reagan Singh went into the book early on while both teams wasted freekicks from good positions. In the 54th minute, Vanspaul lunged into Silva inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Chhetri found the bottom right corner with an inch-perfect kick that went in despite Kaith going the right way.
Bengaluru nearly had their second in the 60th minute when a powerful long-ranger from Delgado looked to be going in. Kaith, however, got the slightest of touches to it, diverting the ball from its path.
Laszlo responded to the goal by throwing on Fatkhullo Fatkhulloev and the Tajik nearly scored the equaliser, unleashing a volley off Jerry’s cross only for Bengaluru goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to block it. Chennaiyin thought they had a penalty in the 69th minute after Crivellaro’s header struck Kuruniyan’s hand on the way out. But referee Rahul Kumar Gupta instead pointed to a corner.