Vineeth hands BFC advantage

Vineeth hands BFC advantage

Bengaluru trump Tampines Rovers 1-0 in closed-door affair

Vineeth hands BFC advantage

Bengaluru FC took a vital step towards booking their place in the semifinals of the AFC Cup with a 1-0 win in the first-leg tie of their quarterfinal against Tampines Rovers on Wednesday evening.

With the game being played behind closed doors, the Sree Kanteerava stadium wore a deserted look. But that was only until the Bengaluru players stepped on to the pitch and set the field alight with their swift pass-and-move game.

Playing under their new head coach Albert Rocca, the Bengaluru players showed no signs of discomfort as they were right on the money, adjusting themselves to the new playing philosophy to outplay the visitors with ease.

Helping the side to get used to Rocca’s philosophy were his foreign recruits as all three were in action, making their debut in a composed manner. While Juan Gonzalez partnered John Johnson in the heart of the defence, Alvaro Rubio and Cameron Watson expectedly marshalled the troops in the middle of the park, with Alwyn George and Eugeneson Lyngdoh occupying the wings in what was a 4-4-2 diamond to begin with.

Though chances were created in numbers by the I-League champions, just one of the many counted as striker CK Vineeth was at the right place in the right time to nod in his first goal under the new head coach in the seventh minute.

It all started with the young Nishu Kumar, playing on the left, clearing his lines at the back. The lofted ball saw Bengaluru skipper Sunil Chhetri nod it into the path of medio George.

Though the Nagpur-born darted into the opposition box, he was tackled just before he could pull the trigger. Luckily for the hosts, the ball fell rather kindly to Vineeth whose tap in deflected off the upright as the Kerala man celebrated Onam in fine style.

Rovers soon came close to drawing parity. With the experience of the former Premier League winger Jermaine Pennant operating on the right for the Singapore-based side, the visitors relied on him to find a way through the Bengaluru back four. And the Englishman delivered as a one-two with striker Billy Mehmet helped him skip his marker and set Jordan Webb through on goal. But unfortunately for the Canadian, his strike could only find the side netting.

Later, Bengaluru too could have put the game to bed as they created chances in plenty. Playing in an unusual opposition on the wings, Lyngdoh spotted a Rino Anto run on the far side with his lofted ball. Though Rino turned the ball into the box and Chhetri cushioned it for an on rushing Lyngdoh, the 30-year-old stretched out leg could only guide the ball into the hands of Izwan Mahbud in the Rovers goal.

Describing the game as a tale of two halves, Rovers’ head coach Akbar Nawas admitted that his side was just not good enough to take on a side like Bengaluru. “I think, we were not good enough. We started very very slow. We couldn’t get into our rhythm, we couldn’t execute our plan. I think we underestimated Bengaluru.”

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