Robin nets late as BFC end year on a high

Westwood's men stay on top after Salgaocar defeat

Robin nets late as BFC end year  on a high

 A contentious 93rd-minute Robin Singh penalty settled the match for hosts Bengaluru FC against Goan side Salgaocar in a round 16 encounter of the I-League here at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Saturday.

Referee A Rowan had already doled out two soft penalties for perceived handball offences before he adjudged substitute Augustin Fernandes of bringing down Robin with a slide tackle after he had raced through following a pass from Sunil Chhetri, the scorer of the first penalty in the 28th minute.

The contact occured outside the box but Robin’s movement -- he flung himself into the area -- made the referee point towards the spot.

The Salgaocar officials, who did not attend the post match media briefing, were enraged with the decision and it descended into a farce as they were seen exchanging heated words with their counterparts inside the BFC technical area.

Even the crowd got into the thick of the action as they hurled a few bottles onto the pitch.
When things finally settled down, Robin composed himself and finished from the spot to send BFC’s players and the fans into delight.

Francis Fernandes had levelled in the 85th minute before Robin’s late winner sealed the match 2-1 in BFC’s favour.

The victory provides the Blues the physhological advantage of being on top of the pile at the mid-season break, with 30 points from 15 games -- three points ahead of second-placed Sporting Clube de Goa who won their match against United SC 1-0.

Both defender John Johnson and ’keeper Pawan Kumar figured in the starting line-up after missing the last match and the latter was called into action early on to tip away a goal-bound freekick from Salgaocar left-back Matthew Foschine.

BFC took their time to settle down and were awarded a penalty in the 27th minute when Keegan Pereira’s cross from the left caught Nicolau Colaco’s arm.

Chhetri din’t need a second invitation and converted to take his tally to nine goals which makes him the joint leading goalscorer along with Mohammedan Sporting’s Josimar.

That proved to be the last significant action of the opening half and it was more of the same in the second until Johnson went off injured with a suspected broken cheekbone following a coming together with an opposition player. 

Like clockwork, BFC became a bit shaky and opted to sit on the break before the referee’s early chrismas present tied the match at 1-1 in the 85th minute.

Skipper Francis Fernandes’ cross from the left struck substitute Vishal Kumar’s arm. Gilbert Oliviera had no problems and finished but BFC was to have the last laugh.

In the post-match press conference, BFC coach Ashley Westwood, who had so far refrained from identifying themselves as title challengers, picked Sporting and East Bengal as two teams who will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.

Immediately after the game, Chhetri was hoisted by his team-mates for a little celebratory fun and dance for him winning the AIFF Player of the Year award.

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