Bengaluru FC crash out of Hero Elite League

Young Blues Held To 1-1 Draw By East Bengal; Go Out On Head-To-Head

Goa: Bengaluru FC were knocked out of the Hero Elite League after they let an early lead slip for the second game in a row, with a 1-1 draw against East Bengal in the final Group-C game ending their campaign in the final phase of the League at the Utorda Ground in Goa, on Thursday.

In a must-win game, Lalrinzuala Lalbiaknia (1’) gave Bengaluru the lead in the opening stages before East Bengal’s Sougata Hansda (65’) levelled the scores with a second half spot-kick. Having shared the spoils, Bengaluru took their tally to 4 points from three games while East Bengal finished on top of the Group with 5 points.

John Kenneth Raj’s boys were hit hard by their loss to SAI Guwahati (4 pts) who managed to finish second in the group on head-to-head advantage over the Young Blues, despite their 2-0 loss to Delhi Dynamos in the other Group-C game which was played simultaneously.

Needing a win to go through, the Young Blues started brightly and for the second game running, scored in the opening minute. Midfielder Arun Kumar’s defense-splitting pass found attacker Lalrinzuala, who made no mistake to slot past the rival custodian.

Lalrinzuala had another chance, this time to double the advantage for Bengaluru in the 19th minute, when he did well to intercept a clearance from East Bengal ’keeper Ayon Roy who came well off his line. The BFC attacker tried his luck from distance but saw his effort go wide. Defender Dalbir Singh then went on a solo run down the middle, beating a host of defenders, but hit his attempt off target.

Meanwhile at the other end, it was BFC custodian Aditya Patra who produced back-to-back saves from Danger Brahma and Srikumar Karjee to keep the Young Blues’ narrow lead intact going into the breather.

The second half saw a slow start, as both sides shared possession. However, despite the lack of clear chances, a mistake at the back from Jagdeep Singh who ended up handling a long ball in the box, gifted East Bengal a chance to level things. It was Hansda who converted the resultant penalty kick to make it 1-1 in the 65th minute.

Desperate for a goal, Bengaluru began pushing ahead and had a glorious chance to take the lead once again in the 73rd minute. Lalrinzuala’s freekick was blocked by the rival ’keeper and the stray ball fell for defender Mohammed Rafi right in front of the goal, but his hastily taken attempt sailed over.

With the draw enough for the Kolkata-side to go through, they held fort at the back to maintain the 1-1 scoreline and seal progress.