Javi Hernandez Strike Canceled Out By Faysal Shayesteh As Grayson’s Men Begin Cup Campaign With 1-1 Draw
Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC began their 2023 Super Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw against Sreenidi Deccan FC at the EMS Stadium, in Kozhikode, on Saturday. First-half goals from Javi Hernandez (9’) and Faysal Shayesteh (21’) saw the spoils shared at the end of what was a close-fought encounter in humid conditions.
Earlier, Blues’ Head Coach Simon Grayson named a starting eleven featuring Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in goal and a back three comprising Sandesh Jhingan, Parag Shrivas and Bruno Ramires. Javi, who was the top scorer for Bengaluru in the 2022-23 Indian Super League, manned the midfield along with Rohit Kumar and Suresh Wangjam as the duo of Sunil Chhetri and Roy Krishna led the line for the home side.
Bengaluru dominated the early exchanges and didn’t take long to open the scoring, with Javi finding himself on the scoresheet as early as the 9th minute. The Spaniard saw his initial shot from the edge of the box saved by Deccan ’keeper Aryan, and the shot-stopper then parried an attempt on the rebound by Roy Krishna before running out of luck when Javi was on point to smash home at the third time of asking.
Carlos Vaz Pinto’s side equalized just over 10 minutes later when Shayesteh equalized in the 21st minute. The Afghan international picked a pass from Rilwan Hassan in the box and cut in from the left before unleashing a shot that deflected off Parag Shrivas and into the back of the net past Gurpreet.
The game continued to flow at a brisk tempo with both sides packed with intent to attack and score. Naorem Roshan Singh and Rosenberg Gabriel were involved in an intense battle on the wings, as the two proved influential to the attacking fortunes of their respective outfits. The defensive units of both teams were kept busy in an entertaining first 45 minutes, but ensured that the game stayed at 1-1 heading in at the break.
Bengaluru started the second period in the same vein as the first, creating more chances and carrying the threat to the opposition. But Sreenidi Deccan came knocking on the Blues’ door in the 56th minute when Gabriel’s cross from the right narrowly evaded Arijit Bogui’s head with the winger bearing down on Gurpreet’s goal.
Grayson was the first to go to his bench, bringing on Namgyal Bhutia in place of Prabir Das and handing a first-team debut for 18-year old Lalremtluanga Fanai, who came on in place of Rohit Kumar. A few minutes later, Sivasakthi and Pablo Perez were called upon to replace Krishna and Parag as the Blues pushed for the lead.
Chances were few and far between despite the efforts of the two teams as heat and fatigue took a toll. Bengaluru came close to taking the lead from a late opportunity that fell to Chhetri. Roshan’s cross found the skipper at the far post, but Chhetri didn’t get enough purchase on the header.
Bengaluru FC will face RoundGlass Punjab in their second Group A game at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode, on Wednesday.