Chhetri powers BFC to the top

Chhetri powers BFC to the top

Star striker's super goal fetches Bengaluru 1-0 win over ATK

Chhetri powers BFC to the top

The man for all seasons, Sunil Chhetri, gave Bengaluru FC reason to cheer at home once again as his wonder-strike catapulted the Blues to the top of the table after an entertaining 1-0 win against ATK in the Indian Super League football on Sunday.

Back-to-back losses in their last two games at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium did little to dampen the spirits of the BFC fans as 17,000-odd supporters were out to cheer their team, as they have done all season.

With Chennaiyin FC drawing 2-2 with Delhi Dynamos earlier in the day, BFC needed just a victory to regain the top spot by a margin of one point and Albert Roca's side  came out a determined bunch.

"We weren't brilliant but there were enough chances created and we deserved to win. It's a fair result," said Roca.

"We have to be humble from now and keep working hard. Nothing is done as yet," added Roca, who dedicated the win to his mother, whose birthday it was on Sunday.

At their attacking best from the whistle with Udanta and Miku linking up well on the right flank, Bengaluru caused all sorts of problems for the ATK back-four, who were living on the edge.

Once they weathered the storm, ATK came into their own with the sprightly Zequinha causing problems for the BFC back four with some nimble footwork and great vision, but the end product was always lacking from the visitors.

The Blues then came close to scoring in the 32nd minute. Edu Garcia floated a delightful ball in and the burly Australian Erik Paartalu rose high to direct it goalward but his looping header struck the woodwork and fell back into play.

The danger hadn't passed as yet for ATK with Rahul Bheke trying to squeeze his shot in past a melee of defenders, only for the former BFC midfielder Shankar Sampangiraj to make a desperate dive and clear the ball off the line.

Until that point, Teddy Sheringham's men had held on steadfastly but a lapse in concentration from midfielder Conor Thomas handed possession to the BFC skipper in the 40th minute. After a couple of touches, the talismanic striker hit a rasping shot past custodian Debjit  Majumdar from 25 yards out to send the crowd into raptures.

The start of the second period lacked a tad in intensity in comparison to the first 45 with both sides willing to sit back. The only noteworthy attempt came from the boots of Robbie Keane, who tested Bengaluru  goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh from 20 yards out. It wasn't the greatest of efforts from the Irishman but Gurpreet still had to put in a diving effort.

A frenetic three minutes should have seen the home side add to the scoreline but it wasn't to be.  Forward Braulio Nobrega, who had just replaced Miku, waltzed his way into the box and from a tight angle, took a shot at the goal. With Majumdar beaten, it looked for all the money in the world that the ball would sneak into the far post, but the post stood in the way again.

ATK conceded a corner and Paartalu rose high once again. He got tremendous power on his header but Majumdar was up to the task and kept his side in the game with an acrobatic effort.

Ten minutes plus stoppage time was what remained on the clock and Roca's men soaked up the pressure expertly to bid farewell to an empty-handed ATK.

Dynamos rally

In another match, Guyon Fernandez' 90th minute strike helped Delhi Dynamos snatch a dramatic 2-2 draw against Chennaiyin FC.

Delhi were the first to score through David Ngaihte in the 24th minute. But Jeje Lalpekhlua slammed two goals to give Chennaiyin the lead but Fernandez turned out to be the saviour for Dynamos.

 

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