In one of the biggest continental clashes to be played on Indian shores in a while, Bengaluru FC took a slender advantage with an early CK Vineeth goal that gives them a 1-0 lead to take to Singapore.
Even though the Bengaluru side may rue several missed chances, the result was a good one after a series of defeats in friendlies under new coach Albert Roca. Tampines' coach Abdul Nawas was upfront in his assessment when he said they played poorly and the Singaporean favourites need to improve drastically to pull off a favourable result in the return leg.
At the end of the day, as CK Vineeth later tweeted, it was a pretty good Onam for him and for BFC.
JSW Bengaluru FC
Amrinder Singh (GK) – 6/10
The usually reliable goalkeeper seemed a tad nervous as he flapped at a few of the balls put into his box. He did put in an otherwise tidy performance and had very little to do as Tampines couldn't produce much in the final third.
Nishu Kumar – 6.5/10
A surprise inclusion from Albert Roca, the lad from Muzaffarnagar impressed in defense, with a superb tackle in the 26th minute denying Jordan Webb a free run into the box being one for the highlights reel. He was a constant threat bombing down the left flank and one of his ambitious runs culminated in a shot that took a deflection and narrowly flew over the bar. Was subbed out early in the second half as Roca opted for the experience of Lalchhuanmawia to close out the game.
John Johnson – 7/10
The Englishman had a shaky start – a collision with the powerfully built Billy Mehmet almost ending his game before it even began. But he grew into the game and soon imposed his presence in the BFC box. Took one for the team when he got booked for a tackle that stopped a dangerous looking Tampines counter-attack just before the half-time whistle blew.
Juan Gonzalez – 5.5/10
The Spaniard who made his debut for BFC in this high-voltage clash had a few scares initially – including a rushed challenge that gifted Webb a golden opportunity – but showcased just why the national champions have brought him in. He was solid in defence and put in a couple of solid blocks.
Rino Anto – 7.5/10
The Malayalee right back had a superb game both defensively and going forward where he put in a few tempting crosses that nearly paid off. Made few errors, and his energy was sustained throughout.
Alwyn George – 7/10
The diminutive midfielder was at his all-action best during the game, and although his shot was blocked, luck went his way when it rolled across to CK Vineeth. He was a constant menace on the BFC right and was subbed out in the 75th minute to give the returning Udanta Singh a run-about.
Cameron Watson – 7.5/10
Another debutant, the Australian excelled in the “Makelele” role and broke up Tampines' attacks constantly. Watson seems to be another astute buy by BFC.
Alvaro Rubio – 8.5/10
The third debutant in the BFC team, the Spanish midfielder who used to be a mainstay at Vallodid showcased his vast class by putting in a Juan Carlos Valeron-esque performance. He and Watson absolutely bossed the midfield and this seemed to herald a new beginning for BFC's midfield.
Eugeneson Lyngdoh – 7/10
The superstar from Shillong was his usual hard working, run-till-your-lungs-burst self and put in a couple of decent crosses, while also challenging well on the far post for crosses from the other flank. He did appear a little lost on the wings though and if Watson and Rubio continue in this form, Roca may have to change formation to get the best out of Lyngdoh.
Sunil Chhetri (C) – 7.5/10
Captain Marvel came up with the stand-out moment of the match when his slide-rule through ball to Alwyn George split the Singaporeans’ defence right down the middle. The pass alone merits the rating, but he showcased more skill throughout - one dummy that he played on the edge of the box completely bamboozling two defenders. His finishing was off-mark though, and he may yet rue the missed chances.
CK Vineeth – 8.5/10
With his pace and constant Vardy-esque running, the Kannur man was a big thorn in the Tampines's side. He took his chance with aplomb to score the only goal of the game, although he was guilty of not putting away a couple of other chances.
Lalchhuanmawia Fanai– 6/10
Came in on the hour mark to lock down the defence, and achieved his task with trademark grace
Udanta Singh – 5/10
The Manipur lad on his return to full fitness had a decent run out.
Malsawmzuala – N.A.
Came in late to replace the energizer bunny that is Lyngdoh, and had too little time to have any really effect on the game.