Dhanpal strike sinks Bengaluru

Chennaiyin inflict rare home defeat on BFC

Dhanpal strike sinks Bengaluru

Chennaiyin FC inflicted on Bengaluru FC their first home defeat in 10 months across all competitions with a 2-1 verdict in a match of frayed tempers in the Indian Super League on Sunday.

Bengaluru had last lost to East Bengal 1-3 in the I-League in February this year. But since then, Albert Roca had ensured that his side made Kanteerava a fortress, a place many teams feared to play in, with the vociferous fans also playing their part.

But on Sunday, goals from Jeje Lalpekhlua (fifth minute) and Dhanpal Ganesh (88th minute) showed no team in the ISL was beyond any rivals' reach as John Gregory's side walked away with three deserving points.

Coming into the game on the back of two wins on the road, there was no lack of confidence in the Bengaluru unit. And this reflected in the line-up Albert Roca named for the game. The Spaniard chose to drop their influential winger Udanta Singh and midfielder Erik Paartalu for Toni Dovale and Edu Garcia while youngster Nishu Kumar was given his first start of the season.

The changes, however, backfired as Chennaiyin barely allowed the home side to settle in and cramped them in the middle. The problems multiplied as Chennaiyin scored an early surprise goal. Of what should have been a simple clearance by the Bengaluru backline, Lenny Rodrigues saw his shot hit his skipper Sunil Chhetri's chest and fall sweetly for Jeje who powered it past a hapless Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in the goal.

This meant Chenniayin could sit back and defend with purpose. They cut Bengaluru supply line with Bikramjit Singh and Dhanpal not allowing Bengaluru's midfielders much time on the ball while Sereno Henrique and Inigo Calderon barely let Chhetri and Miku venture into their penalty area.

Though it looked scrappy for most of the period, it proved to be effective for the visitors as Roca and his men soon ran out of ideas and cut frustrating figures.

The scoreline stayed in favour of Chennai for the most part but Bengaluru showed more urgency in the second period. And with Udanta being thrown in to help his side save something, chances came thick and fast. Chhetri missed a fine chance from close but made up for it with a well-directed half-volley in the 85th minute. Left unmarked, the skipper picked up a pass from Toni Dovale and gave Chennaiyin goalkeeper Karanjit Singh no chance with his strike.

Just when it looked Chhetri could have helped Bengaluru rescue a point, Chennaiyin hit back, and how. A hero in Chennai, Dhanpal rose high enough to head in a Rene Mihelic free-kick, breaking Bengaluru's hearts and stealing three valuable points for his side.

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