Led by skipper Sunil Chhetri's brace, Bengaluru FC put their hosts FC Pune City to the sword in their first away match of ISL 2018-19, as they won 3-0 at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune to go top of the ISL standings.
Chhetri had missed a couple of gilt-edged opportunities to give Bengaluru the lead in the first-half. The Blues also saw their goal threatened by a superb Marcelinho free-kick, but their skipper eventually decided to write his story for the day.
In the 41st minute, he picked up Dimas Delgado's inch-perfect lofted pass to calmly slot beyond Vishal Kaith in the Pune goal. Two minutes later, he doubled his side's lead, as he picked up a pass from Miku and darted past two defenders to leave Kaith helpless.
The Venezuelan striker rounded off the rout midway through the second half, as he took down a long ball from defence, and smashed it past Kaith.
We take a look at some points to ponder for both sides from the game.
#5 Miguel Portugal gets his midfield wrong
Against a side like Bengaluru, it is important that you're able to win the midfield battle, from where you can build and trouble what still isn't a completely settled defence. But Pune got that wrong straight from the off in this game. With Marcelinho coming back into the starting lineup, they played a 4-4-2, with Ashique Kuruniyan and Nikhil Poojary on the flanks.
That meant Adil Khan and Jonathan Vila already had a numerical disadvantage to deal with, against the Bengaluru midfield of Dimas Delgado, Harmanjot Singh Khabra and Erik Paartalu. The industry of Khabra and Paartalu nullified whatever the Pune midfield brought to the game, and that gave room aplenty for Delgado to strut his stuff.
He controlled the tempo of the game for Bengaluru from the first minute, and was instrumental in the Blues' ability to control possession. With Khabra and Paartalu keeping Vila and Adil occupied, it was important for Pune to have another body in midfield to deal with the technical prowess of Delgado.
Marcelinho coming back was welcome for the Stallions. But maybe, Portugal erred by picking both Poojary and Kuruniyan. It might have been an interesting proposition for Delgado to deal with, had Shankar Sampingiraj began the game instead of one of the wingers.
That would've meant lesser space for the Spaniard to revel in, and could have blunted the threat that came from him. In the end though, by the time Sampingiraj came on, it was already too late.