Bengaluru, Chennaiyin play out goalless draw at the Fatorda

Blues Fail To Make Ground In Race For Playoff Spot

Naushad Moosa’s Bengaluru FC side had to split the points with Chennaiyin FC following a goalless draw between the teams at the Fatorda Stadium, in Margao, on Friday. The result leaves Bengaluru three points adrift of the final playoff spot, having played at least a game more than the sides ahead of them.

Moosa made two changes to the side that beat SC East Bengal as Parag Shrivas and Erik Paartalu started in place of the injured Leon Augustine and suspended Rahul Bheke. Moosa’s counterpart Csaba Laszlo, meanwhile, made three changes of his own as Enes Sipovic, Anirudh Thapa and Manuel Lanzarote started in place of Deepak Tangri, Thoi Singh and Germanpreet Singh.

Bengaluru started the game strong, attacking from the get go and looking for an early lead, with their first chance coming as early as in the 2nd minute. Paartalu tried to pick Chhetri with a pass over the Chennaiyin defence, but Enes Sipovic managed to shield the ball for Vishal Kaith to come off his line and collect.

Minutes later, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was tested at the other end when Esmael Goncalves won the ball in the midfield, ran towards the box and took a shot from distance that the Bengaluru custodian parried away. Rahim Ali’s effort from the rebound was straight into the ’keeper’s gloves.

The Blues’ best chance of the half came in the 34th minute when Erik picked out Harmanjot Khabra on the right flank. The Bengaluru right-back cut it back to Chhetri at the near post and the skipper’s shot was blocked by a diving Eli Sabia.

Gurpreet was called into action once again only five minutes before the break when Lanzarote’s attempted cross for Ismael Goncalves needed his attention. The Blues’ number one managed to get his gloves to the cross and Bengaluru managed to clear.

Thirty seconds into the second half, he made another fantastic save to keep the Blues in the game. Lanzarote’s delivery from a free kick was sneaking into the top corner before he got his fingertips to it and pushed the ball onto the crossbar and out of play. He was the busier ’keeper on the night, and made two more saves in as many minutes around the hour mark. First, he got a strong hand to push away Germanpreet Singh effort from outside the box and then Esmael, one-on-one with Gurpreet, saw his effort blocked.

Spanish midfielder Xisco Hernandez came on for the final quarter hour and almost made an immediate impact when his lob over the Chennaiyin defence was headed home by Fran Gonzalez but the assistant had his flag up for offside.

At the other end, Gurpreet made another fingertip save to deny Lallianzuala Chhangte after the winger was played through by Esmael. His saves helped the Blues take one point from the game, and in the process saw him overtake Subrata Paul to an ISL record 29th clean sheet.

The Blues next face ATK Mohun Bagan, at the Fatorda, on February 9.