Bengaluru FC stage stunning fightback

Bengaluru FC stage stunning fightback

PACY: Sunil Chhetri (left) of Bengaluru FC attempts to get past a Kerala Blaster defender during their ISL game at the Sree Kanteerava stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday. DH PHOTO/BH SHIVAKUMAR

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. 

Captain Sunil Chhetri, whose last goal came in November 22 against FC Goa, delivered when it mattered. He scored the all-important equaliser in the 85th minute to save Bengaluru, who were trailing 1-2, from going down and maintain their unbeaten streak at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Wednesday. 

Chhetri rose high to direct Udanta Singh’s cross from the right into the top left corner of the net, much to the delight of the cheering home fans.

The Indian skipper was also the catalyst behind Udanta’s goal in the 69th minute. He headed the long cross from midfielder Erik Paartalu back into the path of the winger, who adjusted himself beautifully before heading home from six yards out.

Remain on top

There was no change in the table as BFC remain at the top with 31 points from 14 games while Kerala stay ninth with 11 points from 15 matches.

Earlier, Kerala produced a power packed show to stun the hosts. They deservedly took the lead in the 16th minute after Kean Lewis accidentally handled the ball while attempting to clear a cross from Mohamad Rakip. Match referee Tejas Visvasrao spotted it and pointed to the spot. Serbian Slavisa Stojanovic stepped up and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner of the net, sending BFC custodian Gurpreet Singh the other way.

Kerala piled more misery in the 40th minute. Courage Pekusan, who commanded the midfield in the first half, curled the layoff from Seiminlen Doungel from outside the box, into the top right corner, leaving the hosts in shock.

Not much was expected from Kerala, who were coming on the back of a loss against Delhi Dynamos. However, a physical approach from Nelo Vingada’s men took the Blues by surprise. Rough tackles flew in from both the sides, which led to a few altercations on the pitch.

Cuadrat upset

BFC coach Carles Cuadrat, who on Tuesday sympathised with the challenges that the Indian referees face in the league, was not as kind after the clash.

“Referees should protect the players. Chhetri nearly got killed with a tackle in the first half but the referee let it go. The whole country would have been very upset if Chhetri had gotten injured, and was forced to sit out for a few months. There were many other fouls that the referee ignored,” said Cuadrat.