Bengaluru FC reclaimed the top spot in the Indian Super League after defeating NorthEast United FC 2-1 in a fiercely fought encounter here on Wednesday.
BFC have 30 points from 13 games, three more than second-placed Mumbai City FC. NorthEast, on the other hand, stay third with 23.
In front of 11970 fans at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, BFC took a lead in the 14th minute after a neatly taken set-piece forced NorthEast defender Mislav Komorski into taking a shot that ended up in his own net.
However, Eelco Schattore's men grew into the game as it progressed and found the equaliser through Uruguayan Federico Gallego in the 60th minute, but the Blues weren't to be denied at their own backyard as substitute Chencho Gyeltshen slotted home the winner in the 71st.
NorthEast could have salvaged a point if it wasn't for Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s heroics. The Bengaluru goalkeeper made himself big to deny Bartholomew Ogbeche and Panagiotis Triadis, both of whom had clear one-on-one chances. The strikers were, however, guilty of hurrying their shots, which allowed the Gurpreet to make the saves.
In the 93rd minute, Gurpreet, under pressure, kept his focus and flew to the right corner to tip away Juan Mascia's effort from inside the box.
Earlier, BFC made a roaring start and created their first chance in the opening minute. Harmanjot Singh Khabra, free in the middle, sent a diagonal ball into the box that found Erik Paartalu. The tall midfielder's first touch let him down and opposition's defender cleared the ball.
Seven minutes later, midfielder Dimas Delgado found the lively Udanta Singh on the right flank. The winger took a touch before unleashing a shot, which was stopped by the defenders, but the ball somehow, landed at Sunil Chhetri's feet. The Blues skipper gave it back to Delgado, who scuffed it wide from the edge of the box.
The hosts' early dominance soon paid dividends through an excellent set-piece move that saw Delgado passing the ball to Chhetri, who lifted it in the path of Udanta, who then took a touch before crossing it back into the NorthEast box. Rushing in to clear, defender Komorski blindly kicked the ball into his own net.
That setback only made NorthEast more determined as they launched a barrage of attacks, with forward Ogbeche coming the closest in the 26th minute. The Nigerian forward rose highest to connect with Reagan Singh’s cross from the right but Gurpreet stood tall and tipped it over the bar.
BFC held a slender 1-0 lead as the referee blew the half-time whistle.
NorthEast came out all guns blazing after the break with Uruguayan Gallego creating all sorts of trouble. The forward eventually made the difference as he collected a lofted pass from Robert Lalthalamuana before gently nudging it between the legs of Gurpreet into the net.
But BFC didn’t back down and found the winner through Bhutanese Chencho, who slid in to drive the headed pass from Juan Antonio Fernandez past NEUFC goalkeeper Rehenesh TP.