Bengaluru FC needed only a single point going into the away fixture against Maziya Sports and Recreation Club at the National Football Stadium, Maldives to qualify for the next round. Maziya scored first through Pablo, albeit in the second half, but it was followed by a rallying period by Bengaluru FC who eventually struck twice through Sunil Chhetri to equalise 10 minutes later from the penalty spot and then finally score the winner in the 78th minute.
In the searing heat and humidity of Maldives, Bengaluru began the brighter side though they created little in front of goal. After a few half chances that were either scuffed shots or well-blocked by the Maziya defense, Robin Singh hit the post in the 31st minute – it would be the closest either side would come to scoring in the first half.
Bengaluru succeeded in creating more chances but captain Sunil Chhetri, Robin Singh and Siam Hangal all failed to convert. Amidst all the chances Bengaluru created, Maziya created one of their own through a low cross played in from the byline but there was no one in the box to capitalise.
Second half sees quicker game as temperature dropped
The first few minutes of the second half indicated that it would be a much faster game than the second half with greater tempo and movement. It was in the 60th minute that the breakthrough came for Maziya as Samdooh floated in a ball from the left side of the pitch, as the Bengaluru defense let Pablo run into space and tap the ball into the back of the net from a few yards out.
In the 65th minute, Bengaluru boss Ashley Westwood brought on Sean Rooney and Eugeneson Lyngdoh in place of Siam Hangal and Thoi Singh as Bengaluru chased the game. The substitution had the desired effect as Rooney’s cross struck Saiif’s hand inside the box in the 69th minute and Bengaluru were awarded a penalty that Chhetri buried in the right bottom corner. Whizzing it past the keeper who guessed the right way.
It took Bengaluru only 8 more minutes to find the next goal. Once again it was Sunil Chhetri, this time he was on the end of a cross from Udanta to volley home. Maziya had their own attempt from Pablo’s header slam off the bar and cleared by John Johnson in the 85th minute as Bengaluru would seal the win to ensure that they qualify from the AFC Cup group stage.
The Blues now turn their attention to an I-League match against East Bengal on Sunday, May 3 in Bengaluru.Published 28 Apr 2015, 18:30 IST