Chhetri Strike, Krcmarevic Own Goal Enough As Cuadrat’s Blues Climb To The Top
Kochi: Bengaluru FC added to their perfect record against Kerala Blasters with a 2-1 win at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Kochi, on Monday with a Sunil Chhetri strike and Nikola Krcmarevic own-goal on either side of a spot-kick by Slavisla Stojanovic. The win took Carles Cuadrat’s men to the summit of the Indian Super League, where they now have a two-point lead, following three successive wins away from home.
The Blues, playing with an unchanged eleven for the third straight game, shot into the lead in the 17th minute when Chhetri picked a quick pass from Miku and staved off a challenge from Sandesh Jhingan to score past Naveen Kumar. The goal however, had a hint of luck to it, as replays showed the Bengaluru skipper to be offside when he got the ball.
But Kerala had their own touch of good fortune when Nishu Kumar was deemed to have brought down Sahal Abdul Samad to hand a hosts a penalty that seemed rather soft. Slavisa Stojanovic stepped up and beat Gurpreet Singh Sandhu with a hit that took a bit of the crossbar on its way in to make it 1-1.
Earlier, a rare instance of miscommunication among the Bengaluru backline almost cost Cuadrat’s men as a ball slid in across the face of the goal wasn’t dealt with by a single white shirt. Len Doungel, who picked the pass at beyond the far post only managed to hit the outside of the goal.
The start to the second half was delayed by close to fifteen minutes after three light towers at the Stadium shut down. But the long break did little to slow down the tempo of the first half possessed. Bengaluru had a big chance a little over ten minutes into the second half only for ’keeper Kumar to come up with a fantastic save. Miku, short on space in the Kerala box, cut the ball back for Udanta Singh whose goal-bound shot took a deflection of a sliding Lalruatthara, but Kumar recovered well to get a strong hand to it.
In a bid to shake things up a little and chase the win, Cuadrat introduced Xisco Hernandez for Juanan Gonzalez. The substitution meant Rahul Bheke joining Albert Serran in the centre of defence while Harmanjot Khabra slotted in at right back.
Kerala’s big chance to go ahead came in the 77th minute when Prasanth slipped CK Vineeth between the last Bengaluru line, but with only Sandhu to beat, the former Blues striker scuffed his take wide.
Bengaluru then took the lead with less than ten minutes of regulation time left to play. Substitute Xisco played it to Miku and ran into the box to receive the cut-back from the Venezuelan before taking a strike on goal, but Kumar’s save saw the ball head straight into the path of an incoming Krcmarevic, who could do little as it went back into goal off his knee.
The Blues went on to retain possession for most of what remained in regulation time as they ran the clock down to claim another win on the road.