Blues Slip To Fourth Defeat Of League Campaign; Ortiz, Wangjam Sent Off In High-Octane Encounter
Marco Pezzaiuoli’s Bengaluru FC side slipped to their fourth defeat of the 2021-22 Indian Super League campaign with a 2-1 loss to FC Goa at the GMC Athletic Stadium, in Bambolim.
An Ashique Kuruniyan own-goal gave Juan Ferrando’s side the lead before Cleiton Silva whipped in a free-kick to level things up on the stroke of half time. However, Devendra Murgaonkar’s strike twenty minutes from time was the difference. Both sides ended the game with ten men after Jorge Ortiz and Suresh Wangjam were handed their marching orders in the second period.
Earlier, Marco Pezzaiuoli handed Danish Farooq his first start in the Indian Super League, as the midfielder replaced Edmund Lalrindika in what was the only change from the side that took on Hyderabad FC earlier in the week. Iman Basafa and Prince Ibara, who missed out on that encounter through injuries, were named on the bench.
The hosts started strong, with efforts from Bedia and Ortiz saved well by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in the Bengaluru goal. With sixteen minutes on the clock, the Blues conceded the opener, with Murgaonkar’s cross into the box parried by Gurpreet, only for Ashique to miscue his clearance and hack into his own net.
Pezzaiuoli’s men had a chance to almost immediately find the equalizer when Suresh Wangjam fed Naorem Roshan Singh in the box, but the full-back’s pass into the box was uncharacteristically miscued by Chhetri, whose effort went over Dheeraj Singh’s frame.
Bengaluru’s persistence paid off as they found the leveler on the stroke of half-time when Silva whipped an audacious free-kick from the left flank past Dheeraj and Aibhanba Dohling at the far post. The Brazilian’s strike was his third of the season and second from a set-piece, having found the net in similar fashion against Mumbai City FC.
Pezzaiuoli rang in two changes at the break, with Prince Ibara and Parag Shrivas introduced in place of Jayesh Rane and Roshan Singh. The Congolese striker had a quick impact, with his incisive drive into the box and pass for Danish blocked away by Aibanbha. Only moments later, Ibara’s header from a deep cross fell on the roof of the net as the Blues made more frequent forays into the attacking third.
The hosts found themselves a man down when, following a challenge from Suresh Wangjam, Jorge Ortiz engaged in a physical altercation with the Blues’ midfielder. Following a consultation with his officials down by the touchline, the Spaniard was brandished a red card by referee Pranjal Banerjee for his part in the scuffle.
Only fifteen minutes later, however, it was Juan Ferrando’s side that reclaimed their lead following a quick free-kick routine that allowed Saviour Gama to venture forward with possession. The right-back’s cross into the area found Ivan Gonzalez whose nod down fell to Murgaonkar, who was in space in the area. With time on his hands, the striker made no mistake from eight yards out, slotting past Gurpreet to make it 2-1 to the hosts.
Ferrando rang in a host of changes as Samad Ali Mallick and Saviour Gama made way for Nongdamba Naorem and Sanson Pereira, followed by the introduction of Dylan Fox and Muhammad Nemil for Murgaonkar and Alberto Noguera. Pezzaiuoli made a change of his own, as Sivasakthi replaced Pratik Chaudhari for the final ten minutes of the game.
Parity in personnel was restored when Banerjee handed a second yellow to Wangjam, in what was a dubious decision after replays suggested Bedia had simulated to win the foul. Bengaluru came close on two occasions late in the second half with strikes from Cleiton and Sivasakthi, but it wasn’t to be as the Gaurs emerged victorious at the Bambolim.
Bengaluru next face ATK Mohun Bagan, at the same venue, on December 16th.