Bengaluru FC came away as comfortable 2-0 winners over FC Goa at the Sree Kanterava Stadium in Bengaluru to secure their place in the playoffs in the fourth season of the Hero Indian Super League. Edu Garcia opened the scoring for the home side in the 35th minute and Dimas Delgado scored late in the second half to secure the points for Albert Roca’s side. Manvir Singh and Manuel Lanzarote came closest to scoring for the away side.
It was the home side that started the match on the front foot as they came out looking to attack Naveen Kumar in goal. Skipper Sunil Chhetri had the first chance of the match as he received the ball outside the box, found himself with space and shot at goal. Naveen however, made a routine stop. The Gaurs had the next chance of the match when Mandar Rao Dessai charged down the left flank and crossed the ball. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu got a hand to the cross but parried it into the path of Ferran Corominas who headed at goal. The big goalkeeper however, got down well to prevent the ball hitting the back of the net. Manvir Singh could have got on to the scoresheet in the 10th minute with a stinging drive after cutting in from the right and shooting with his left foot. The ball was headed into the top corner until Gurpreet dived in the way and palmed the ball to safety. The Gaurs were looking dangerous in attack as they pushed forward to find the opener but the Bengaluru defence stayed firm to deny the visitors.
Seriton Fernandes was fouled on the right side just outside the box by Nishu on the 19th minute mark and Manuel Lanzarote stepped up and curled an effort at goal but the Indian national team goalkeeper once again made a save. The home side should have taken the lead in the 24th minute after a superb ball from the left found Semboi Haokip at the near post who instinctively poked it goalwards but Naveen got down well to make the stop and deny the hosts. With Goa looking to attack, the hosts exploited the space vacated by the visitors and finally took the lead from a set-piece in the 35th minute. An outswinging corner found the head of Edu Garcia who leaped over the defenders to send a looping header to the far post which beat Naveen and the attempted headed clearance of Bruno Pinheiro stationed at the far post to give his side the lead.
The visiting side were pegged back against the run of play and they reacted by pushing forward in a bid to level the tie. Mandar was presented with a couple of chances thereafter but failed to capitalize on them as Bengaluru looked to hit the visitors on the counter to double their lead. They were almost gifted a second goal though when Naveen passed the ball straight to an opposition player who played Semboi in. The striker ran into the box and shot but Naveen came off his line to deny the Indian and atone for his error. With time running out, neither side was able to get another goal as the referee called time on proceedings thereafter.
The Gaurs kept the lion’s share of the possession at the start of the second half as the looked to work the ball forward into scoring areas. But despite their dominances with the ball, they were unable to carve out any clear cut chances as the Bengaluru defence held firm. The Indian national team skipper almost scored his team’s second goal against the run of play once more when he received a throw in, turned and shot from an angle on the left. Naveen tipped the ball away to safety. Lenny Rodrigues tested Naveen one more time in the 64th minute with a long range shot but the Indian goalkeeper saved once again. Goa finally created a chance in the 69th minute when Coro played the ball to Lanzarote on the right side of the box. The Spaniard took a touch and attempted to curl the ball past Gurpreet but skied his effort, much to the disappointment of the travelling fans.
Sergio Lobera changed things up in the 77th minute when he threw on Chinglensana Singh and Hugo Boumous for Bruno Pinheiro and Narayan Das. The Gaurs had to do something quickly in order to get a result in this fixture and Hugo was sent on to provide impetus in attack. However, it was the home side that struck a fatal late blow. A scramble on the edge of the box was nodded forward by Antonio Dovale and the Goans attempting to play the strikers offside didn’t notice the run of Dimas Delgado who beat the trap, found himself one on one with Naveen and calmly stroked the ball home to dash the hopes of the Goan side.
The Gaurs were presented with a chance later on however, when Edu found Lanzarote with a peach of a through ball in the box. The attacking midfield player was in space on the right side of the box and instinctively attempted to hit the ball towards the far post but Gurpreet stuck out his hand to keep his side’s two goal lead intact. Boithang Haokip had a late chance to make it 3-0 with a power header towards the near post but Naveen made yet another good save. However, with time ticking on, the home side looked comfortable and saw out the victory to qualify for the knockout stage of the tournament.
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