Nishu strike late for Bengaluru FC

The Blues down New Radiant to stay atop group

Nishu strike late for Bengaluru FC

It was a case of so-near-yet-so-far for a spirited New Radiant SC as they succumbed to a 0-1 defeat in the AFC Cup Group Stage game after Bengaluru FC's Nishu Kumar netted in stoppage time.

On a pleasant Tuesday evening at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here, it was the visitors who dominated for large periods of the game but it was Sunil Chhetri who once again proved his class and laid it on a plate for Nishu in the first minute of second-half added time.

The victory ensured BFC remained on top of Group E with nine points from three outings. New Radiant, on the other hand, stay in second with six points from three matches.

It was the home side that was doing all the early running as New Radiant came out with real purpose and looked the more determined of the two sides.

BFC are used to enjoying a reasonable chunk of possession every time they step out onto the pitch but it was the Maldivian side who looked comfortable on the ball and did a fabulous job of pressing the Blues.

Much against the run of play, it was BFC who notched the first chance of the match in the 14th minute. New Radiant's goalkeeper Mohamed Imran rushed off his line and clashed with striker Daniel Segovia on the edge of the box. Segovia's partner up-front, Thongkhosiem Haokip, gathered the ball and fired goal-ward, but his meek attempt was cleared off the line by Afghan defender Haroon Amiri.

Thereafter, it was another spell of sustained pressure from New Radiant but Erik Paartalu was ensuring Bengaluru's defence kept their shape and thwarted wave after wave of attacks with ease.

Thongkhosiem had a second chance with 32 minutes played as Harmanjot Khabra, returning from a long lay-off, made a speedy run on the right flank and floated a cross into the box. The Manipuri striker Thongkhosiem got a decent connection but couldn't direct the ball on target as BFC's frustrating evening continued.

Bengaluru got a better foothold in the second half but New Radiant were refusing to settle for anything short of three points as they created chances aplenty.

The 1,839-strong crowd was doing it's best to egg on the home side and they went up in raptures in the 70th minute as Chhetri was introduced in place of Thongkhosiem.

With the clock running down, Chhetri collected Boithang Haokip's pass in midfield and easily beat his marker. The Indian skipper waited just for the right amount of time and passed the ball to Nishu, who tapped into an empty net and kept Bengaluru's record against Maldivian teams unblemished (seven wins in seven games).

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