I-League: Bengaluru FC 3-0 Shillong Lajong - Match Report
Bengaluru FC won their first home game of the season in convincing fashion as the Blues destroyed Shillong Lajong 3-0 in the Shree Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore. A goal from CK Vineeth and a brace from man-of-the-match Kim Song Yong gave the hosts the win.
Bengaluru FC coach Ashley Westwood named a strong lineup, with Thoi Singh being a notable omission from the starting lineup. Alwyn George made his debut in his place, while Kim Song Yong and Malsamwzuala made their first appearance at the Kanteerava Stadium for the hosts.
Shillong Lajong coach Thangboi Singto named a typically youthful lineup that has come to typify the Meghalayan visitors, with 6 U-22 footballers in the lineup, along with Brazilians Uilliams and Pena continuing their sparkling combination upfront.
Bengaluru FC: Ralte; Lalchuanmawia, Osano, Johnson, Anto; Lyngdoh, George, Malsawmzuala; Chhetri, CK Vineeth, Kim Song Yong
Shillong Lajong: Kaith; Pritam, Sana, Tamang; Gurung, Khongjee, Bipin, Orji, Nogrum; Uilliams, Pena
Bengaluru FC made a storming start to their first home game of the season, as CK Vineeth gave the hosts the lead in the 1st minute itself. A long ball from Osano was won by Kim and the Korean chested the ball to the striker on the left edge of the box, allowing the Keralite striker to turn and shoot with his left foot past Kaith in the Lajong goal.
The hosts had the ball in the back of the net minutes later, but Vineeth's strike was ruled out because of a handball in the buildup. Penn Orji created a chance that could allow the visitors back into the game soon after, but his cross that found Bipin in space was skied by the winger.
A frenetic start to the gme continued as Uilliams and Kim had a couple of half-chances but failed to convert. Bengaluru FC went closest to doubling their lead in the 12th minute, as Kaith had to be at full stretch to divert Eugeneson Lyghdoh's effort from range. As the half progressed, Vineeth came close to doubling his tally with a deft backheel, but the ball drifted wide.
The game drifted to a quiet spell after a breakneck opening 20 minutes, but Bengaluru FC had the Kanteerava screaming for joy in the 36th minute, as Kim doubled Bengaluru's lead. The Korean was Johnny-on-the-spot after his late run into the box allowed him to tap home from close range after Eugeneson's blocked shot squirmed through to him.
Lajong's frustrations at their lack of competitiveness came through when their captain Aiborlong Khongjee was booked in the 40th minute. In contrast, Bengaluru were thriving and came close to tripling their lead in the 45th minute, as John Johnson struck the crossbar with a towering header from a Lyngdoh corner.
Uilliams came close to changing the team talk at half time with a well struck free kick in the 2nd minute of first half injury time, but Ralte scrambled to save the Brailian's free kick, thus keeping Bengaluru FC's 2-0 lead intact going into half time.
The second half began in a far more sedate fashion than the first, as both sides struggled to create a clear-cut chance soon after play resumed. Lajong and Bengaluru both had penalty appeals that were waved away, with Bengaluru's being the stronger appeal, as Kim Song Yong appeared to have been brought down by Kahit after CK Vineeth had played the ball through after running on to a long ball.
Just before the hour mark, Westwood made his first change, bringing on Shankar Sampingiraj for Malsawmzuala. The change in midfield appeared to have worked, as Bengaluru FC tripled their lead in the 60th minute. A dummy from CK Vineeth allowed Kim to run clear from a through ball, and the Korean completed his brace, as he stroked the ball under the Lajong keeper with assured calm.
Thangboi Sinto reacted to the 3 goal deficit by bringing on Jacob Lalrawngbawla, while CK Vineeth was replaced by Udanta Singh in the 69th minute. Bengaluru FC went close to worsening the situation for Lajong when Eugeneson Lyngdoh drew a good save from Kahit with a long-range effort after Lajong had failed to clear the ball properly.
Shankar picked up a yellow card in the 75th minute with an agricultural challenge on Penn Orji. However, Udanta was the complete opposite, with the forward troubling the Lajong defence with his pace on the counter. Thoi Singh came on for Alwyn George to rapturous applause in the 78th minute as Westwood looked to shore up his defence and see out the win.
Kim Song Yong almost completed his hat-trick in the 83rd minute, but the Korean spurned two opportunities in quick succession - the first being his sweetly struck shot from the edge of the box that came off the left upright, leaving the Korean to miss a regulation header from the resulting cross. As the game drew to a close, Sunil Chhetri volleyed over after running on to a through-ball, but it did not matter as the final whistle blew.
The win means Bengaluru FC are top of the I-League table with 3 wins in 3, while Lajong bemoan a mediocre start to the season.