Fighting Bengaluru fall short

Fighting Bengaluru fall short

Fighting Bengaluru fall short

A valiant effort from Bengaluru FC went in vain as they bowed out of the running for a place in the group stages of the 2017 AFC Champions League, after a 1-2 loss to Jordanian champions Al-Wehdat at the King Abdullah International Stadium in Amman, Jordan, on Tuesday.

Skipper Sunil Chhetri scored what was to be a consolation for Bengaluru after goals from Ahmed Wridat (48th minute) and Baha Faisal (65th minute) gave Wehdat a 2-0 lead.

 Albert Roca’s 5-2-3 had John Johnson, Juan Gonzales, Sena Ralte, Harmanjot Khabra and Udanta Singh in defence with Lenny Rodrigues and Came­ron Watson in midfield, while Chhetri, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and CK Vineeth formed the Bengaluru attack.

Content to sit back and soak in the pressure, Bengaluru pulled off the plan flawlessly in the first half, refusing to give Wehdat any clear chance at goals.

 For all their resistance in a smart first half, Bengaluru conceded soon after the restart when Wridat scored from close after the ball came off the Blues defence and fell at the No. 9’s feet in the box. But just as Bengaluru were looking to put behind the disadvantage and chase the game, Sena Ralte conceded a needless penalty, bringing Baha Faisal in the box with the ball nowhere near the two. Faisal stepped up and smashed his take to Amrinder’s right.

 Left with a mountain to climb, Bengaluru refused to cave in to the pressure. And their bravery was rewarded in the 68th minute when Chhetri rose to nod home Watson’s take from a Bengaluru corner to stun the home crowd into silence. Sensing the need to add pace in the hunt for an equaliser, Roca threw in Mandar Rao Dessai for Lyngdoh.

 Bengaluru’s best chance for an equaliser came in the 83rd minute when Udanta, after being picked by Chhetri, crossed in a delightful ball only to see Vineeth to hit over from close.

 Bengaluru join Maldivian side Maziya S&RC, Bangl­adesh’s Abahani FC and the winner of the South Zone play-off between clubs from India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives, in Group E of the AFC Cup.