Honours Even At The Tilak Maidan As Blues Let Two-Goal Lead Slip
Bengaluru FC dropped a two-goal lead against Hyderabad FC as Naushad Moosa’s men drew 2-2 at the Tilak Maidan, in Goa, on Thursday. Goals from Sunil Chhetri and Leon Augustine had given the Blues a 2-0 lead heading into the final stages, but the hosts clawed back with goals from Aridane Santana and substitute Fran Sandaza to pull level in injury time.
Moosa made two changes to the side that drew against Odisha FC. Fit-again Harmanjot Khabra replaced Parag Shrivas in defence while Leon Augustine made his first start of the season, as Amay Morajkar moved to the bench. Manuel Marquez Roca also made two changes to his Hyderabad side, as Joao Victor and Liston Colocao started in place of Roland Alberg and Mohammed Yasir.
The Blues were dealt an early blow when Juan Gonzalez pulled up with what looked like a strained hamstring, and was substituted for Parag Shrivas. Despite the setback, Bengaluru attacked with intent and took the lead with just nine minutes on the clock. Cleiton Silva’s inch-perfect delivery from a free kick was glanced home by Chhetri to put the Blues 1-0 up. Cleiton had a chance to double the lead only three minutes later, but the Brazilian’s shot from a narrow angle nestled the side netting.
The Brazilian was central to all things good for the Blues and almost set Suresh Wangjam up for his first goal of the season in the 21st minute. Getting to the end of a long ball on the left, Cleiton cut inside and found Wangjam outside the Hyderabad box, but the midfielder’s attempt from distance was inches wide of the post.
Hyderabad’s first chance of the game came in the 27th minute after the referee failed to stop play for offside despite the linesman raising his flag. A quick throw-in saw Aridane Santana one-on-one with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, but the Spaniard’s low effort was wide of the Bengaluru frame.
Hyderabad had another chance at the end of the first period when Liston Colaco played Akash Mishra through down the left. The full-back made his way into the Bengaluru box and sent a cross that Halicharan Narzary, at the far post, was unable to divert goalward.
Gurpreet made two fantastic saves in as many minutes to make sure Bengaluru stayed in the lead when Aridane got to the end of Halicharan’s cross in the 53rd minute, only for Gurpreet to parry away. Moments later, the Blues’ number one came off his line to stop Aridane from turning the ball into the net after a set-piece.
Bengaluru added to their lead in the 61st minute when Leon latched onto Hitesh Sharma’s backpass, raced free of the Hyderabad defence and used the outside of his foot to put the ball past an onrushing Laxmikant Kattimani for his first goal in a Bengaluru shirt.
But it was far from finished at the Tilak Maidan, and Hyderabad pulled one back in the 86th minute when Aridane got to the end of Rohit Danu’s cross and turned the ball into the net from close range. With the wind in their sails, the hosts continued to push forward and found the equaliser in the dying minutes. Fran Sandaza, who managed to break the offside trap, managed to turn the ball in from close range to level the score.
The Blues next face SC East Bengal, at the same venue, on February 2.