An inspired performance by Indian National Team captain Sunil Chhetri led Bengaluru FC to a 2-1 win over rivals Pune FC. Two quick-fire goals in five minutes from the Bengaluru FC captain helped them put away Pune FC.
Sunil Chhetri, against the run of play, scored for Bengaluru FC, first via a brilliantly executed back volley, straight into the bottom corner in the 43rd minute. Four minutes later, Chhetri added to his goal scoring tally, as he calmly slotted a penalty past Amrinder Singh, who would definitely have to shoulder some blame for his role in the concession of both the goals.
The Pune FC custodian failed to clear his lines in the lead-up tp the first goal and then brought down a rampaging Sean Rooney, which resulted in a penalty, for the second. Pune grabbed a consolation goal from a Haokip shot in the dying embers of the match.
Pune dominate but fail to capitalise
A 2-1 scoreline is perhaps a failed representation of an impressive Pune FC performance. The opening minutes of the match witnessed some great football from the Red Lizards as they advanced onto the opposing goal repeatedly. A clear mark of their dominance was the fact that Bengaluru FC failed to register even one shot on target in the opening thirty minutes of the match.
Arata Izumi continued to impress as he ran at the defence relentlessly, and constantly looked to find Haokip inside the box. The striker though wasted the opportunity to edge Pune FC ahead as a 34th minute through ball from Izumi was poorly shot into the stars by him.
Bengaluru saw the game off with ease as both teams cancelled each other
A resilient Bengaluru FC stepped up their ante in the second half and captain Sunil Chhetri came close to tripling the Blues lead in the 54th minute. Bringing on a robust Munmun Lugun for Gonsalves clearly reflected Bencherifa's tactical switch as Pune began to adopt a more attacking stance from the wings, which was something that they lacked in the first half.
In the 68th minute, Haokip's effort was acrobatically saved by Ralte, following a through ball from Eric Brown. Both teams cancelled each other out for the rest of the match, as Bengaluru’s coach Ashley Westwood made changes to counter Karim Bencherifa’s attacking modifications. Although Pune FC were subdued by the I-League champions, Bencherifa would rue his team's opportunity to finish chances off.
This result saw Bengaluru FC go into the semi-finals, as they sit pretty at the top of the group with 10 points. Pune, with 4 points, will now need a win when they take on Salgaocar, who have 6 points, to reach the semi-finals.Published 05 Jan 2015, 19:07 IST