I-League: Bengaluru FC 1-2 Sporting Goa - Match Report
Sporting Goa claimed a vital 2-1 victory away from home, as they ended their losing streak against Bengaluru FC to win, despite going a man down early in the game. Odafa scored the opener before Dharmaraj Ravanan was sent off for two yellows in the space of seven minutes. CK Vineeth equalized for the hosts in the second half, but Odafa scored his second to single-handedly give Sporting the win.
Ashley Westwood named a strong starting lineup, making 3 changes to the side that started against East Bengal. Michael Collins made his debut in midfield as the Englishman came in place of the injured Eugeneson Lyngdoh, while Alwyn George and CK Vineeth started for the Blues as they lined up in a 4-4-2 formation.
Mateus Costa opted to place new signing Mehrajuddin Wadoo on the bench, opting to go with tried and trusted personnel as he faced up against a strong Bengaluru FC side, with Victorino Fernandes who scored against Bengaluru FC last year also on the bench.
Bengaluru FC XI: Amrinder Singh (GK); Lalchuanmawia, Curtis Osano, John Johnson, Rino Anto; Thoi Singh, Alwyn George, Michael Collins; CK Vineeeth, Sunil Chhetri, Kim Song Yong
Sporting Clube de Goa XI: Arindam Bhattacharya (GK), Joseph Clemente, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Loveday Okechukwu, Fulganco Cardozo; Densill Theobald, Mahmoud Al Amna, Denson Devadas, Nicholas Fernandes, Seriton Fernandes, Odafa Okolie.
The hosts spurned a chance to take an early with their first attack of the game. A cross from the right was glanced onto Sunil Chhetri in space on the left side of the box, but the Bengaluru talisman screwed his shot wide as he tried to beat Arindam in goal with a shot across the goal.
The hosts were made to regret that miss soon after as Sporting Goa took an unlikely lead in the 9th minute. John Johnson gifted the Flaming Oranje the goal, as an uncharacteristic heavy touch allowed Nicholas Fernandes to steal possession with a tackle. The ball fell to Odafa Okolie, and the prolific Nigerian unleashed a piledriver from the edge of the box that left Amrinder Singh in the Bengaluru FC goal with no chance, making it 1-0 to the visitors.
Odafa looked in the mood as he came close with another effort from range that had Amrinder stretching every sinew to palm the ball away for a corner. Minutes later, Dharmaraj Ravanan went into the book for needlessly throwing the ball away from a free kick. The Sporting defender came to bitterly regret this pointless error inthe 21st minute, as he was sent off for an elbow on Alwyn George when the Flaming Oranje were preparing to take a corner.
With the visitors a man down, Bengaluru FC dominated the ball and made merry down the left wing, with Lalchuanmawia making countless overlapping runs only to fail on the delivery of the final ball. The hosts had their best chance to equalize in the 37th minute, as a pass from Alwyn George found Chhetri in space in the box, but the Indian captain shot over from a narrow angle.
The hosts were unable to make their territorial dominance tell, as Sporting Goa went into the break a man down, but with a valuable 1-0 lead.
The hosts began the second half in circumspect fashion, as while they had the majority of the ball, Sporting Goa sat deep, keeping Bengaluru at arms length while their defence thwarted any attack the hosts could muster. With his side unable to assert their dominance despite being one man up, Westwood made his first change of the night, bringing on Beingaichho Beikokhei for a disapoointing Thoi Singh.
Manuel Costa responded with a change of his own, bringing on Subhashish Bose for a tiring Nicholas Fernandes. As the sides absorbed their respective tactical reshuffles, Bengaluru came close to scoring their equalizer, as Arindam saved a Chhetri header from near range. The resulting corner was deflected onto the post and Alwyn George shot over after the ball was cleared to his feet.
The midfielder was involved soon after, as he turned neatly away from his marker and sent a pass through to CK Vineeth in the box. The striker shot at goal, but his stike deflected off a defender’s back, thus wrong-footing Arindam which meant the ball looped into an unguarded net, giving Bengaluru FC their equalizer in the 65th minute.
Sporting did not seem disheartened at conceding the eqaulizer, as despite being a man down, they countered well with Denzil soon after. The Flaming Oranje stunned the Bengaluru crowd into silence in the 74th minute, as Odafa reprised his goal from the first half, sending in a powerful low drive from the edge of the box that evaded a flailing Amrinder in goal.
With Sporting descending into rather cynical time wasting tactics, the Bengaluru crowd responded by counting the seconds being wasted. The indignant crowd nearly had a new hero in the 82nd minute, as Collins unleashed a screamer from range that evaded the top corner by inches. Sporting responded to the pressure with further time-wasting by Arindam, which had the crowd fuming in anger.
The referee responded by adding a staggering seven minutes of added time, but Bengaluru were unable to fashion clear cut chances.Sporting nearly profited from Bengaluru pushing up, as Odafa spurned a 3-on-1 counter by blazing over. Bengaluru threw away a chance of their own in the dying minutes, as John Johnson headed over when free in the box from a Chhetri free kick.
The defender had a penalty claim waved away in the final moments, as the referee blew the final whistle to consign Bengaluru FC to their first home defeat of the season, while Sporting claimed a vital away victory.