BFC, Dempo play out lacklustre draw in opener

BFC, Dempo play out lacklustre draw in opener

Salgaocar rally to hold Pune FC

BFC, Dempo play out lacklustre draw in opener

Skipper Sunil Chhetri missed a penalty as champions Bengaluru FC kicked off their I-League reign with a toothless 0-0 stalemate against a defensive-minded Dempo here at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday.

Playing a top-level match in front of their fans for the first time since winning the I-League and Federation Cup, Bengaluru FC struggled to find a way past the dogged Goans, eventually forced into settling for a point.

Having tasted defeat three times against Bengaluru FC,the five-time national league champions Dempo chose to keep things tight, hardly showing the tendency to go for the kill. With 14 players having competed in the grueling Indian Super League and some failing to start owing to injuries and fatique, Dempo opted to play amongst themselves.

Known for their discipline, BFC too didn’t attempt anything out of the ordinary as big opening clash lacked any sort of rhythm for most parts.

After nearly 30 minutes of ordinary football where neither team were able to get a grip of things, the match switched into third gear for the first time when BFC created two good chances.

Dempo’s Fulgancia Cardoza misjudged a harmless long ball played into his box which an alert BFC striker Sean Rooney collected before setting himself through. However, Cardoza quickly recovered and appeared to bring down Rooney when the Australian was set to prod the ball home. BFC players went up for a penalty but referee Ranjit Baksi instantly turned it down.

Bengaluru, showing some real bite towards the end of the opening half, nearly stroked ahead in the 42 minute, only to be denied by the brilliance of Calum Angus. The Englishman, who joined Dempo from Pune PC in the close season transfer, made a superb off-balance goal-line clearance off Rooney’s point-blank shot.

However, within two minutes Angus turned from hero to villain when he handled a ball inside the box to hand BFC a penalty. But, Chhetri, the joint top-scorer last season with 14 goals, opted for the stop-start approach and his resultant tame effort was easily kept out by Dempo goalkeeper Laxmi­kant Kattimani.

Dempo also had their moments – one early on and the other a little after the half-hour mark – but couldn’t find the back of the net. In the 22nd minute, Angus’ sharp header off a corner kick saw the ball just miss the goal by inches while Holicharan Narzary made hash of a great chance in the 34 minute.

One hoped the teams will come out with renewed energy and some purpose after the break but the script remained the same and the 10,000-odd fans hardly had anything to cheer about. Such was the defensive mindset of the players, especially Dempo, that the Goans didn’t send more than four players when they earned a corner kick during the fag end of the match.

A great chance arose in injury time when Dempo’s Francis Fernandes found playmaker Alwyn George with a delightful cross, for the later to see his shot sail over, summarising the drab contest aptly.

In the other match in Goa, Salgaocar FC and Pune FC played out a 1-1 draw.
Anthony D’ Souza gave the lead for Pune in the 44th minute but Salgaocar restored parity in the 80th minute through substiute Gilbert Oliveira.

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