Bengaluru FC failed to hold on to their two-goal lead as they drew 2-2 with Hyderabad FC in their 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) encounter on Thursday. Sunil Chhetri (9') and Leon Augustine (61') were the goalscorers for the former champions at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco.
Sunil Chhetri headed home Cleiton Silva's curling free-kick to give Bengaluru FC the lead early on. On the hour mark, Leon Augustine latched onto a mistimed back-pass from Hitesh Sharma, and burst through the center to double the Blues' advantage.
However, Hyderabad FC mounted a late comeback to ruin Bengaluru FC's party. Aridane Santana beat Gurpreet Singh Sandhu from close range in the 86th minute before Fran Sandanza scored the Nizams' equalizer in injury-time.
"Of course it is (heartbreaking). In 4 minutes, conceding 2 goals that's really not digestable. The way they played, they showed character. They were defending well. But towards the end, that's where we are struggling, switching off and giving away easy goals," Bengaluru FC interim coach Naushad Moosa addressed the media after the game.
After Leon Augustine scored his first ISL goal for Bengaluru FC, the 22-year-old became emotional and was seen crying on the pitch.
"I had a talk with him. I had a feeling that he was going to score. The way Asish (Rai) and (Akash) Mishra were going on top overlapping, that was one place I was looking to take advantage. And, he did well. He went for the ball and badly needed the goal for his confidence. He always said that he wanted to score, and he did that," Moosa added.
Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri was taken off in the 85th minute, with the Blues conceding twice after his departure. When asked if the substitution affected the team's performance, Naushad Moosa replied:
"I feel so. We were not getting the balls to two defensive midfielders. They should have been blocking those long passes. That was the only thing missing."
Erik Paartalu and Juanan are so important players for Bengaluru FC: Naushad Moosa
Erik Paartalu picked up his seventh yellow card of the season and will miss Bengaluru FC's next match against SC East Bengal. Juanan, who pulled his hamstring and had to be substituted early against Hyderabad FC, is also doubtful for Tuesday's clash.
"It's not only Erik (Paartalu). I miss Juanan as well. These two players are so important for our team, not only for the set-pieces and corners. They bring experience. We have a young squad. Things will be difficult. We will have more Indian players now. We have to play with it. Let's see how it works out," Naushad Moosa added.
Bengaluru FC looked set to end their seven-match winless run, but Hyderabad FC's late charge hampered their aspirations.
"I don't want to say that fitness is a problem. They might just be casual. You have to be serious till the last whistle. They've been doing good. It's not they had a bad game. They had a good game. It was just fractional seconds where you switched off. I have been telling that. We need to work on it," Moosa concluded.
Bengaluru FC will next play SC East Bengal on Tuesday.