Leon Augustine’s Early Strike Futile As Visitors Stage Dramatic Second-Half Comeback to Seal Qualification
Bengaluru: An early goal from Leon Augustine (9’) went in vain as Bengaluru FC bowed out of the running for a spot in the semifinal of the Stafford Challenge Cup, with a 2-1 defeat to Delhi Group C, at the Bangalore Football Stadium, on Sunday. The visitors, who won their opener against Kenkre FC, scripted a second half comeback as an own-goal from Amay Morajkar (62’) and an injury-time penalty from Fahad Temuri (90+7’) helped them on their way to three points and qualification, in what was a pulsating encounter at the Bangalore Football Stadium.
Earlier, Naushad Moosa made three changes to his side as ’keeper Amrit Gope, Namgyal Bhutia and Leon made their tournament debuts. The latter made his presence felt in only the 9th minute of the game when his late run into the box met a cross from Thoi Singh to give Bengaluru the lead. Striker Harmanpreet Singh came close to scoring his second goal in as many games when he found himself through on goal and at the end of a long punt from Bhutia, but his shot on the bounce took a deflection and struck the crossbar on its way out.
Delhi FC came close to equalizing minutes shy of the half-hour mark when Radhakanta Singh sent Vanlal through on goal with a well-timed pass, but Gope was alert and came off his line to thwart the danger.
Into the second period, Harmanpreet had another chance to double Bengaluru’s lead from a corner, but the forward’s attempted volley was miscued and went over the crossbar. Delhi pushed forward with intent and found the equalizer only two minutes past the hour mark, when Karandeep Singh’s free-kick took a heavy deflection off Morajkar, leaving Gope wrong-footed.
Bengaluru made changes in the final stages of the game with Shreyas Ketkar, Harsh Patre and Satendra Singh making their way onto the pitch, but it was the visitors that found the winner when Radhakanta’s shot hit Clarence Fernandes’ hand prompting the referee to point to the spot. Substitute Temuri stepped up and struck past Gope to snatch the points with what was the final kick of the game.
Bengaluru FC will play their third and final Group C encounter against Kenkre FC at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Tuesday, 28 February.