Bengaluru FC begin maiden AFC Cup campaign with dramatic win over Maldives' Maziya
Bengaluru FC began their maiden AFC Cup campaign with a dramatic and late 2-1 win over Maziya Sports and Recreation from Maldives. The Indian side took the lead through Sunil Chhetri, but the visitors equalised through Umair's penalty late on. However, the home team were not to be denied, as they scored the winner through local boy Shankar Sampingiraj.
Indian side dominate scoreless first half
Bengaluru FC dominated the first half, but couldn't make the most of their chances, as Maziya rode their luck to keep the score goalless. The hosts had a lot of chances, but it was the away team who had the ball in the back of the net through Pablo, but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Bengaluru continued their patient build-up, and were almost rewarded in the 13th minute when Robin Singh had a chance to score after a well-worked throw-in, but his shot was a little too high.
Immediately after, Shankar's header from Lalchhuanmawia's great ball was saved well by Maziya goalkeeper Imran. The hosts also had to deal with an enforced change, as Walker was replaced by Hanghal.
The best chance of the half fell to Robin Singh, who did well to spring the offside trap, but he was beaten to the ball by Imran, and his clearance fell to Lyngdoh, whose shot went over.
Next it was Hanghal's turn to have a go, and his shot was pushed onto the bar by Imran in the Maziya goal. Maziya got a free-kick on one of their rare forays forward, but Umair's free-kick was easily saved by Ralte. Robin again went close, when his header from Lyngdoh's cross went just over.
Late flurry of goals decide tie
The second half saw the home team play with more urgency, as they looked to get on the score-sheet. Robin's towering header was very well saved by Imran, before Hanghal went close with a shot after great work from Chhetri down the left. The Bengaluru FC captain then had a brilliant chance to give his team the lead, when he was put through by Hanghal, but his shot went wide. Despite all the home team's domination, Maziya got a chance against the run of play, but Niyaz put his shot wide.
All that good play finally paid dividends, when captain Sunil Chhetri headed the home team in front from Rino Anto's cross in the 67th minute. Just when it looked like it was plain sailing for the hosts, Maziya gave them a scare, when Pablo headed wide under no pressure.
The JSW-owned side could have doubled their lead, but substitute Rooney couldn't control his shot from inside the box, and it flew over the bar.
There however was late drama, as Maziya were awarded a penalty for a hand-ball inside the box from John Johnson. The resultant penalty from Umair squirmed under Ralte's body and into the goal.
The visitors could have taken the lead, when Nashid missed his shot when unmarked inside the box, when all he had to do was tap it in.
There was still some action left though, as the hosts scored the winner through local boy Shankar, who headed in Lyngdoh's free-kick late into injury time.