Bengaluru FC went down 2-0 against a formidable South China AA side in their Round of 16 clash in the AFC Cup. Australian striker Daniel McBreen scored two goals, one on either side of half-time to guide his team to a comfortable victory over the Indian contingent.
The away side’s manager Ashley Westwood kept Sunil Chhetri on the bench in this important clash while Robin Singh, Beikhokhei Beningaicho and Sean Rooney were fielded upfront. Also, English defender John Johnson missed the game due to a last minute illness. Gurtej Singh played as the centre-back alongside Curtis Osano.
The Indian team dominated the initial stages of the match as they created more chances and controlled possession. The ground was extremely poor and soggy which affected the quality of the match. Bengaluru mainly concentrated on playing the ball to Robin Singh, and then making runs off him to try and penetrate.
In the 28th minute, a bad decision by the referee resulted in them conceding the first goal. Osano tackled Mahama Awal inside the penalty box, and it looked to be a clean tackle too. But the referee thought differently and a penalty was awarded to South China. Daniel McBreen found the back of the net from the spot with a nonchalant shot.
Professional South China finish off Bengaluru in the second half
Out of desperation, Ashley Westwood fielded Sunil Chhetri in the second half to try and restore parity. Bengaluru looked dominant and resolute in their approach. They attacked more but were restricted by the opponent’s defenders. South China, on the other hand, concentrated more on defending and were mostly focussing on counter-attacks.
From one such move against the run of play, the home side generated an attack from the left flank and a low cross was put into the box. Ralte failed to intercept the ball and McBreen easily tapped in a second goal through the near post.
Sunil Chhetri received a chance to pull one back in the 72nd minute, but his free-kick from close range sailed over the cross bar. McBreen had another opportunity in the dying minutes of the game to score a hat-trick, but Ralte pulled off a brilliant diving save to deny the forward.
Bengaluru’s run in their maiden AFC Cup campaign came to a halt. They were unlucky not to score one goal after getting so many chances. Also, the pitch conditions didn’t help them. However, they will be happy with their performances as they gave a good account of themselves.