Sunil Chhetri's brace helped Bengaluru FC defeat Mumbai City FC 4-2 in their 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) encounter at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim, Goa. The win lifted them one spot in the points table to sixth. They now have 22 points from 18 matches.
Cleiton Silva scored a brace in the first half for Bengaluru FC in the 25th second, which became the fastest goal of the season. Adam Le Fondre pulled one goal back for Mumbai City FC in the 50th minute. But Sunil Chhetri restored their two-goal cushion seven minutes later.
Le Fondre once again scored a goal in the 72nd minute, but Chhetri's darting run in the dying embers, followed by a composed finish, sealed the tie for Bengaluru FC.
Sunil Chhetri made his 200th appearance for the Blues across all competitions and capped it with two goals. When asked what he brings to the team on and off the field, Bengaluru FC's interim coach Naushad Moosa replied:
"He is the captain and the leader. The way he motivates all the players is there for everyone to see. You can also see the frustration on him when the team is not playing well. It was very important for him to stay calm today and keep motivating the players. And, it worked," Moosa said.
Cleiton Silva opened the floodgates of the match even before most of the Mumbai City FC players got their touch to the ball. Connecting a low cross from Udanta Singh, the Brazilian slammed the ball home from close range.
"Surprised? Yes. That was rare. They always played high. So, the idea was to capitalize on that and go for the counter-attack," Moosa mentioned.
Bengaluru FC's coach still believes it's possible to reach the ISL playoffs
Despite the win, Bengaluru FC's chances of making it to the playoffs are slim. They need to win both their remaining matches against FC Goa and Jamshedpur FC and hope that other results go in their favour. But Moosa hasn't lost hope.
"I didn't say that the hopes are off. I said that the way the other teams are getting draws, so there are possibilities (of reaching the playoffs). We just have to play the way we played today," Moosa said.
Bengaluru FC's third goal came after Gurpreet Singh Sandhu thumped a long free-kick from his own penalty box into the opposition's third. Hernan Santana, who was marking Sunil Chhetri, slipped, and the skipper made no mistake in slamming the ball home from a distance.
"Mumbai (City FC) was pressing too high. Their defense was also playing very high. The idea was to play the ball long and make use of the pace of Udanta (Singh), Sunil (Chhetri) and Ashique (Kuruniyan) when he comes up," Moosa revealed.
Bengaluru FC have to build momentum on their victory. Their next opponents, FC Goa, who will face Odisha FC on Tuesday, are winless in their last six games.