FULL-TIME: Bengaluru FC 3-0 FC Goa
Bengaluru FC: 50′ Juanan (Assist: Miku); 58′ Udanta Singh (Assist: Dimas Delgado); 69′ Miku; 42′ Nishu Kumar (RED CARD).
A 10-man Bengaluru FC produced a second half display for the ages to dismantle an in-form FC Goa at the Kanteerava Stadium. The win tonight ensures Bengaluru FC will finish top of the league come the end of the season in a couple of weeks.
Going into tonight’s match, Goa were on a run of five games undefeated and had kept clean sheets in all of them. Bengaluru FC on the other hand were coming into this game on the back of two consecutive defeats against Delhi Dynamos and Chennaiyin FC.
Predictably, Goa were the ones who looked like they could get a result out of tonight’s match and started the game well. Jahouh hit the post with a rasping shot from outside the box in the fourth minute and a breakthrough looked on the cards sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, Benglaluru could not really put things in attack together and looked second best throughout the first half.
To add to that, Nishu Kumar was sent off in the 42nd minute for a second yellow for showing dissent. The decision seemed unwarranted and created a bit of a ruckus as the teams went into half-time.
The second half saw the Blues step out with renewed vigour and intensity. Khabra dropped into the left fullback position to cover for Nishu Kumar. Goa on the other hand looked complacent and were harried constantly by the Bengaluru players. Against the odds, it was Bengaluru who scored from a Xisco delivery into the box. Miku flicked the ball onto Juanan who chested the ball to control it and then walloped it into the net.
In the second half, Miku and Udanta Singh looked to exploit spaces on the pitch and a second goal followed for Bengaluru in the 58th minute. This time it was Dimas who worked a fabulous inside foot pass past the Goa defence and into Udanta Singh. Udanta’s first touch took him into the box and he finished with aplomb while the captain Sunil Chhetri who was rested for tonight’s game cheered from the stands.
Miku who hasn’t been among the goals after returning from a long injury layoff took today’s game to announce resumption of service. The Venezuelan added a third for Bengaluru with a beautiful curler from outside the box to put the game beyond doubt.
Looking at the xG graph tonight indicates Goa were guilty of profligacy in front of goal. Brandon Fernandes managed to hit the post from six yards and Hugo Boumous shot way over the post when all he had to do was target an empty net.
Besides that, Bengaluru in the second half were compact and narrow in defence and prevented Goa from moving the ball quickly in midfield. They also did not allow Goa to get to the touchline and pull it back which is a usual source of goals for the Gaurs.
The resilience and character Bengaluru FC have shown today will serve them well as they prepare for the play-offs. Goa are top of the league with respect to goals scored, chances created (xG) and almost always score. For Bengaluru to play more than a half of football with 10 men, keep Goa from scoring and to win comfortably shows their mental strength.
Both Goa and Bengaluru have already qualified for the play-offs and have their last league game to play. Bengaluru will take on Jamshedpur on Feb 27 while Goa will host Chennaiyin on Feb 28.