Blues Stage Second Half Fight-Back; Play Out First Draw Of The Season
Bengaluru: A spirited performance from Bengaluru FC saw them come from a goal down to draw 1-1 against FC Pune City in an entertaining clash at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Friday. A Sarthak Goloui (21’) opener for the visitors was cancelled out by Miku’s (75’) twelfth goal of the campaign in a game where the Blues had chances aplenty apart from a clear penalty denied in the second half; as they played out their first ever draw of the campaign.
Coming into the clash on the back of a five-match winning run in the competition, Albert Roca made a few changes in the line-up with Miku, Udanta Singh and Toni Dovale all making it to the Starting XI.
It took less than a minute for Bengaluru to put the Pune defence under pressure. Dovale found Miku with a delightful through pass and with Sunil Chhetri waiting to tap home at the other end, it needed a desperate slide from Baljit Sahni to put the Venezuelan’s cross out for a corner.
But it was Pune who shot into the lead against the run of play in the 21st minute after Rahul Bheke’s attempt to clear, came off a charging Diego Carlos to spark a counter. With bodies in front of him, Emiliano Alfaro picked Goloui on his right and the defender scored from close. The visitors took the lead to the dressing room at half-time, keeping things tight at the back.
Miku, who had a shot from distance kept out by Vishal Kaith in the first half, went for precision with a chance in the 58th minute only to see the ball trickle wide. In a bid to shuffle things, Roca rang in a double change, bringing on Nishu Kumar and Alwyn George for Subhasish Bose and Udanta.
The Blues had a chance to claw back into the game in the 69th minute when Sunil Chhetri’s cross very visibly caught the outstretched hand of Sahni in the box but referee Venkatesh R. brushed away all pleas by the Bengaluru players. The decision only seemed to spur the hosts who found an equalizer just minutes later. Thongkhosiem Haokip, who was Roca’s last change of the game, controlled the ball in the box on the right, before picking out Miku with a deft chip. The striker, ever so lethal in front of goal, struck home a volley to make it 1-1. The goal was Miku’s 12th of the season, and only second at home after opening his account against Delhi back in November.
The Blues kept the pressure on and created numerous chances in a frenetic final quarter, only to be denied by Kaith again. In the final minute of normal time, Bengaluru almost scored the winner. Chhetri picked up the ball and fed Haokip through the middle on a quick counter, and he in-turn, set up Miku. The striker however, blasted it over, having beaten his marker. Meanwhile, Marcelinho was denied at the other end by Gurpreet whose outstretched dive kept out the Brazilians’ powerful shot on goal as the game ended 1-1.
The Blues now host TC Sports Club in the second leg of the AFC Cup Play-Off clash at the Fortress on Tuesday.