BFC taste victory again

BFC taste victory again

Erik Endel (Blue) of Bengaluru FC celebrating his goal against ATK , during their ISL Football match, at Shree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Thursday. Photo/ B H Shivak

Bengaluru FC extended their unbeaten run to 11 games and consolidated their position on top with a dominating performance against ATK in the Indian Super League here on Thursday.

Erik Paartalu’s header in the 37th minute proved to be the difference as BFC defeated the Kolkata outfit 1-0 in front of over nine thousand supporters at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. 

Carles Cuadrat’s men head to the long break with 27 points and lead Mumbai City FC, the team placed second in the table, by six points. ATK, meanwhile, remain at sixth with 16 points after 12 games.

The scoreline didn’t justify BFC’s superiority as the hosts missed a clutch of chances to put the game to bed. Kean Lewis, named in the starting line-up for the first time because of Harmanjot Khabra’s suspension, more than justified his selection with an electrifying display. Paartalu had a solid presence in the middle and caused plenty of trouble with his long passes and never allowed the opposition to settle. 

On the other hand, ATK’s struggles in front of the goal, in the absence of Kalu Uche and Emiliano Alfaro, was evident as forward Balwant Singh was wasteful upfront.

The Blues started brightly and could have taken the lead in the second minute. Sunil Chhetri and Lewis made some neat exchanges before the winger rolled the ball in his skipper’s path at the edge of the box. But the striker couldn’t keep his composure and smashed his effort wide of the post. 

Eight minutes later, Paartalu’s long diagonal pass to Lewis down the left flank almost caught the ATK defence sleeping, but the winger’s touch took the ball away from him towards the ATK goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya.

The Blues earned a free-kick in the 17th minute after Brazilian Santos Pinto brought down Chhetri just outside the box. The Blues skipper stepped up but failed to put the ball beyond the ATK wall. 

BFC suffered a blow in the 33rd minute when Nishu suffered an injury and had to be substituted. It, however, made little difference as four minutes later Bengaluru reaped the reward for their dominance. Paartalu, left unguarded in the box, rose high to head Lewis’ cross from the left flank into the bottom right corner of the net to break the deadlock. BFC stayed on top for the remaining period and went into the break with a slender lead.

Balwant spurned a great chance to equalise in the 67th minute when he was one-on-one with the onrushing BFC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh, but the forward couldn’t keep his cool and his shot went inches wide of the far post.