Chhetri does it again!

TP Rehenesh of Kerala Blasters FC tries to block Bengaluru FC midfielder Raphael Augusto’s effort during their ISL match at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Saturday. DH Photo/ B H Shivakumar

Bengaluru FC churned out a scintillating display in the second period to edge out Kerala Blasters 1-0 in their Indian Super League clash at a jam-packed Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Saturday.

After an intense but a goalless first-half, captain Sunil Chhetri put Bengaluru ahead in the 55th minute. Kerala, meanwhile, had only themselves to blame as they missed a couple of great chances to score throughout the period, highlighted by Raphael Messi Bouli’s blunder from inside the box.

With the win, Bengaluru jumped to the second spot with nine points from fives game while Kerala remained seventh with four points.

BFC received a major boost ahead of the match with defender Albert Serran returning to the starting XI after missing the game against Chennaiyin FC due to injury.

The game began on a fierce note, with both the teams looking for early openings, much to the delight of the 27,083-strong crowd, cheering for their respective sides.

Bengaluru midfielder Erik Paartalu came close to netting the opener in the ninth minute when his header off a cross from Ashique Kuruniyan went just off target.

Five minutes later, a howler from Udanta Singh almost handed Kerala the advantage. The winger’s back pass was intercepted by Bartholomew Ogbeche, who passed to Bouli inside the box. The Cameroonian squared the ball back across the net towards Ogbeche, who despite sliding in, failed to find the finishing touch.

In the 29th minute, Bengaluru saw a Raphael Augusto goal ruled out after the linesman adjudged the ball to have gone out of play before Udanta crossed it to the Brazilian.        

Bouli then missed a great chance to give Kerala the lead in the 42nd minute as he smashed his shot over the crossbar while one-on-one with Bengaluru custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. The miss saw both teams go into the half-time goalless.

Looking for a breakthrough, Bengaluru came out all guns blazing after the break and in the 50th minute Udanta dribbled his way into the box but his attempted shot was brilliantly blocked by an impressive Mohamad Rakip.

But there was no stopping Bengaluru as their desperate hunt for goal yielded result in the 55th minute through Chhetri, who left his mark in the fixture with a diving header off a corner from Dimas Delgado from the right.

In the 68th minute, Kerala’s Rahul KP had an effort whiz past the Bengaluru post.

Bengaluru again threatened in the 73rd minute through the crafty Augusto but a superb block from centre back Raju Gaikwad, kept them Kerala in the contest

And although Kerala did come close on a few more occasion, their failure to convert the chances and a moment of lapse during the corner kick proved their undoing. 

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