Jayapura too good for BFC

Bengaluru to play South China away in round of 16 clash

Jayapura too good for BFC

Visitors Persipura Jayapura rallied from a goal down to hand Bengaluru FC a 3-1 defeat in their final group stage game of the AFC Cup here at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on a rainy Tuesday.

Though 19-year-old Udanta Singh had put the hosts ahead in the 24th minute, goals from Robertino Pugliara (29th minute), Imanuel Wanggai (72nd minute) and Boaz Solossa (79th minute) helped the visitors end the group stage undefeated.

The win also meant Jayapura, the 2014 semifinalist, maintain their top spot in Group E with 16 points and will host Pahang FC or Global FC in the Round of 16 on May 26. Bengaluru, who finished second with 15 points, will travel to Hong Kong to face South China Athletic Association in their pre-quarters clash.

With just Thoi Singh ruled out of the tie due to a suspension, it was surprising to see BFC coach Ashley Westwood, who has the reputation of hanging on to his personnel, ring a number of changes. Defenders N S Manju, Gurtej Singh, Keegan Pereira and Vishal Kumar came in and along with Curtis Osano made up the back line of a defence-minded 5-3-2 set-up. Beikhokhei Benghaicho and Siam Hangal were the others who Westwood handed a start.

Meanwhile, Jayapura’s head coach Oswaldo Lessa stuck to his reliable starting list as their top-scorer for the competition, Solossa and skipper Zulam Zamrun led their attack. Aware of their opponent’s counter attacking abilities, Bengaluru started the game in a slow and cautious manner. The new set-up soon paid the dividends as Udanta was the first to get his name on the score-sheet. The Bengaluru forward was fed by his strike partner Robin Singh with a well-weighed pass from the right and the Manipuri lad did no make any mistake, calmly slotting home the ball.

Down by a goal, the visitors came back strong as their Argentine recruit, Pugliara blasted in the equaliser soon. Defender Ruben Sanadi found an unmarked Pugliara on the edge of the Bengaluru penalty box who unleashed a fierce strike to find the top right corner of the goal in the 29th minute, giving keeper Lalthuammawia Ralte no chance.

The five-men defence didn’t trouble visiting forwards much and their second goal summed up the shortcomings in the Bengaluru backline. Wanggai, after receiving a Sanadi pass from the right, got past the Bengaluru defence with ease and found the top corner to give his side a well-deserved lead in the 72nd minute.

Jayapura left no time in putting the game to bed as Solossa took his goal tally in the competition to five as he scored in the 79th minute. Sanadi was once again the man behind the move as the defender found Solossa with just the custodian to beat, and the latter made no mistake in scoring Jayapura’s third.

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