There is an unease that surrounds the opponents every time Bengaluru FC set up for a set-piece. It was palpable again on Thursday at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. Hyderabad FC, it felt was defending the reputation as much as the corner, but in the end, having made an art of coaxing goals from dead-ball situations, Carles Cuadrat side once again dipped into his well of training ground routines to clinch a 1-0 win and climb to the second spot in the table behind FC Goa.
This would be their 13th goal from a set-piece situation and fourth in a row. Just seven minutes in, Dimas Delgado -- as he has done all season -- lofted a corner into the edge of the box and Nishu Kumar, who has quietly carved a reputation for himself as a scorer of good goals, side-footed his effort from the edge of the box into the roof of the net.
Hyderabad had their chances, though they never looked convincing. A penalty was stopped and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was forced to make a spectacular reflex save from Liston Colaco in the dying moments of the game to keep his clean sheet.
Perhaps that says more about the home side’s inability to finish off games. The defending champions should have gift wrapped the win with the chances they had. Udanta Singh came close in the first period, Deshorn Brown, a tad too eager and perhaps on a different day, could have walked away with the match ball in his hands and hailed a hat-trick hero. Substitute Ashique Kuruniyan lobbed the ball wide when in a great position and new boy Nili Perdomo struck one post and rolled his effort wide of the other in a few breathless seconds.
Hyderabad struggled to gain foothold in the game, their midfielders often chasing shadows in a well-lit pitch. Any inkling of a threat from Hyderabad was smothered by an assured Albert Serran who won more than his fair share of 50-50 challenges and marshalled the defence with authority.
Marcelinho, ever the moody but mercurial captain of Hyderabad on whom lies the hopes of his side, barely had a kick in the game and was substituted 11 minutes before the end. However, he would leave his mark.
Young Suresh Wangjam, making his second start for the Blues, was tasked to man mark the Brazilian and stuck to him like glue during a passage of play which proved most interesting. Marcelinho, recognising his opportunity, used his experience to outfox the youngster.
The decision, which garnered huge protests from the home team -- a wrong yellow card for a confused Nishu and a lengthy chat between referee Tejas Visvasrao Nagvenkar and his assistant -- was a penalty.
Marcelinho struck it poorly, allowing Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to get a strong hand. The goalkeeper was also alert to save the follow up from Bobo.
Result: Bengaluru FC: 1 (Nishu Kumar 7th) bt Hyderabad FC: 0.