Champs Bengaluru make a flying start

Football I-League : Udanta nets a brace in 3-0 win over Lajong

Champs Bengaluru make a flying start

Champions Bengaluru FC began their I-League campaign with a comfortable 3-0 win over Shillong Lajong at the Sree Kanteerava stadium here on Saturday.

Sporting an all-pink kit, away from their usual blue in support of their campaign ‘Weforwomen’, Bengaluru hit plenty of right notes to humble Lajong.

A brace from Udanta Singh (27th, 69th minutes) and a goal from Sena Ralte (80th minute) proved to be the difference as Albert Roca began his campaign in the league on a winning note.

A new head coach, a new philosophy and as many as three new faces in the starting XI, all these showed their presence as Bengaluru began in a messy manner. Wayward passes, mis-traps and failed link-up plays kept creeping in as the hosts tried to find their feet in the initial exchanges.  Lajong, however, could not capitalise as BFC defence held their ground.

Though they struggled, Bengaluru did manage to get past the Lajong backline a handful of times. And in one such attempt, they even came close to testing Vishal Kaith in the Lajong goal. But Udanta fell fraction short of a Harmanjot Khabra cross as the shot-stopper rushed out to gather the ball.

That in some way proved to be the light that the reigning champions were looking for at the end of the Lajong tunnel. And it didn’t take much before Bengaluru had their noses in front.

Gifted with a corner in the 26th minute, Udanta would have cursed himself for missing a training ground routine. But the diminutive midfielder soon had another opportunity when Daniel Lalhlimpuia made the most of a shabby clearance to send in a juicy cross and Udanta netted in the opening goal after a goal-mouth scramble.

Bengaluru could have added a handful more to their tally before the break, but a sensational Kaith in the Lajong goal ensured that the visitors stayed in the game with a string of quality saves.

Returning with intent, the hosts didn’t take long to hit the ground running. And with the likes of Sunil Chhetri, Udanta and Lalhlimpuia testing Kaith time and again the two-goal cushion was not far away.

Though Kaith managed to deny Udanta initially, he too soon was just a spectator as the Manipuri completed his brace in fine fashion.

Caught on the end of a Eugeneson Lyngdoh pass, Udanta flicked the ball over his marker, cut in and unleashed a powerful strike to make it 2-0 to the hosts.

Later, Ralte capped off his club debut with a controlled strike from outside the box. Pouncing on an half-hearted clearance from Dan Ignat, the 28-year-old drilled in a first-time volley before climbing on his skipper Chhetri’s back to celebrate his start to life at Bengaluru FC.

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