Chhetri's brace powers BFC to top

Chhetri's brace powers BFC to top

Two first-half goals from Sunil Chhetri fashioned Bengaluru FC’s climb back to the top of the table on a day when the other title contenders lost ground.

Shillong Lajong, unbeaten in six games, were expected to challenge the home side but their attack never lived up to the billing as Chhetri assumed centre stage on a warm Sunday here at the Bangalore Football Stadium.

After this win, BFC regained sole lead with 21 points from 11 games, two ahead of Pune FC.

Chhetri, who scored in the 7th and 34th minutes, made up for some disappointing performances thus far with a fine display of attacking football from the left-wing. Boithang Haokip scored a pearler of a left-foot free-kick nine minutes from injury time to raise visions of a late comeback but the Blues saw out the game 2-1.

There were not many chances for either side in a frantic opening till Chhetri and Robin Singh, who got a rare start in place of Australian Sean Rooney, combined to devastating effect in the seventh minute. Chhetri picked up the ball on the left-wing, cut in to the central area, passed the ball to Robin who returned the favour to Chhetri. Chhetri then opened his body delightfully and his confident side-footed effort from 12 yards settled under the bottom corner.

Shillong forward Cornell Glen and Uilliams Silva were lively up front and were causing some problems to the centre-half pairing of John Johnson and Curtis Osano. But Chhetri’s second goal of the afternoon in the 34th minute pushed BFC further ahead of their rivals.

Beikhokhei Beingaichho’s short corner found Chhetri but Subhash Singh’s superb tackle robbed him the ball. But the referee, bizarrely, pointed to the spot. Chhetri didn’t mind the decision one bit and finished with ease, sending goalkeeper Vinay Singh the wrong way. 

BFC changed their tactic and opted to sit on the break while Shillong’s forwards repeatedly kept going into a shell as the goal kept eluding them.

The late free-kick brought some hope to Shillong and their merry band of supporters who were in good voice throughout the game, but Chhetri and Co smothered the visitors quite brilliantly.

BFC coach, Ashley Westwood, in the post game press conference insisted that he wasn’t looking at the league table. “We look at it (the table) after the final match of the season. We are not getting carried away and we have to keep improving our standards,” said Westwood.

Shillong coach Thangboi Singto wasn’t happy with the award of the penalty against his team.

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