Bengaluru: Daniel Lalhlimpuia played super-sub to perfection, scoring in the second half to beat Mumbai FC 1-0 as Bengaluru FC went level on points with League leaders Mohun Bagan with a game in hand. Young Lalhlimpuia’s first goal for the club came in the 81st minute when he tapped home close from a cut-back by CK Vineeth to send a vociferous home crowd into a tizzy at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Saturday. The win was Bengaluru’s first over Mumbai in six League meetings, shattering a jinx that was long overdue.
Earlier, Westwood named a squad that had no Sunil Chhetri as the skipper continues to recover from a sore groin that saw him miss both of India’s World Cup qualifiers last month. The big inclusion was that of Eugeneson Lyngdoh who was making his return from an injury that kept him out for two months.
The first half was all Bengaluru FC who did everything but get a goal to show for their toil. Former Blues ’keeper Pawan Kumar kept his side alive, dashing out of his box to deny CK Vineeth who was bearing down on the Mumbai FC goal.
A few minutes later, Pawan was once again called into action as a powerful Kim Song header off a Rino Anto cross fizzed towards goal. However the ball fortuitously went straight to the Mumbai FC custodian who claimed it on the line.
There was a two-minute window of absolute disbelief in the second half for everyone Bengaluru FC when the Blues failed to put away as many as three chances that were as gilt-edged as they come. Kim Song Yong, CK Vineeth, Thoi Singh and Len Doungel – all guilty of not putting away regulation offerings after having done all the hard work.
Mumbai FC had a couple of half chances, the most notable being Taisuke’s awkward poke from the edge of the six-yard box that trickled wide of Amrinder Singh’s far post.
The goal finally arrived in the 81st minute with ‘keeper Pawan sprinting off the goal-line only to let the ball past him which saw Vineeth roll it into the path of the on-rushing Lalhlimpuia who buried the ball into the corner of the unguarded net.
The Blues now travel to Pune to face DSK Shivajians FC on Wednesday night followed by a home fixture against fellow title contenders East Bengal FC on Sunday.