BFC suffer Shillong slip-up

Football I-League : Holders miss chance to go on top after being held to 1-1 draw

BFC suffer Shillong slip-up

 Bengaluru FC’s title aspirations were dealt a blow when the reigning champions were held to a 1-1 draw by Shillong Lajong in their I-League game here at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium on Friday.

Going into the game trailing league leaders Mohun Bagan by a solitary point, Bengaluru looked on course to leapfrog the Mariners to the top spot after Sean Rooney had given them the lead in the 45th minute. But a second-half penalty helped Lajong draw parity in the tie.

Bengaluru, having played 17 games, maintain their second position in the league with 32 points, while Bagan, also on 32 points, lead the charts on a better head-to-head record against the Ashley Westwood-side. Bagan have also played a game less.

Westwood went into the game with an unchanged line-up from the one that beat East Bengal last weekend, while the hosts had striker Cornell Glenn missing with a suspension as both teams struggled to ascertain any sort of dominance in a half bereft of too many chances.

But just as it seemed the Blues would head to the dressing room a frustrated bunch, Bengaluru showed why they are a very dangerous side from set pieces. Armed with a free-kick on the right, Rooney did well to beat his marker, adjust his body and flick Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s take into the far corner with his head.

Looking to make most of the lead, Bengaluru came out in the second half with more intent. Some smart work by Fanai Lalchhuanmawia down the left saw the final cross leave Lyngdoh with a great chance to land an early blow. But the midfielder, who was lucky to have the shot after struggling to control the ball at the first chance, skied his attempt.

However, for all the running around in the second half, it was Lajong who found the back of the net against the run of play. A seemingly harmless Lajong corner a little beyond the hour mark, proved fatal after Uilliams Souza Silva’s take caught defender John Johnson’s hand in the box, prompting referee Santosh Kumar to point to the spot.

The Brazilian striker stepped up and fired the ball home after sending goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte the wrong way. The equaliser seemed to infuse sting into Lajong’s attack as the hosts stepped up the chase for a second. Having already replaced Rooney with Robin Singh at the start of the second half after the Australian’s knee seemed to cause some discomfort, Westwood threw in Udanta Singh for CK Vineeth in a bid to take the attack to Lajong.BFC have three games left in the season.

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