Miku strike lights up BFC show

Bengaluru FC's Miku (second from right) celebrates with team-mates after scoring against Chennaiyin in their ISL game at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday. DH Photo/ Satish Badiger

Miku lit up a largely cagey encounter with a superb goal as Bengaluru FC exacted revenge for last season’s heartbreak by defeating defending champions Chennaiyin FC 1-0 in their opening Indian Super League encounter here on Sunday.

The Spaniard, the Blues' highest goal scorer (15) in the league last season, gave another brilliant example of his potent finishing skills with a lethal strike just before halftime to send the Sree Kanteerava Stadium into raptures.

Plenty of needle was added to this mouth-watering clash after Chennaiyin beat Bengaluru twice here last season, including a come-from-behind win in the final in March.

Although it was just the opening clash for both teams, they were determined to get off the blocks on the right note. As such, they chose to tread cautiously during the opening stages, trying to get a measure of the other with their tried and tested formulae.

Bengaluru made the moves during the early phase while Chennaiyin were happy to sit back and attack on the counter. While BFC showed the willingness to attack, they couldn’t stitch together a proper pass in the final third with Chennaiyin central defenders Inigo Calderon and Eli Sabia smothering every raid nonchalantly.

Chennaiyin were also very good in ensuring Bengaluru’s talismanic skipper Sunil Chhetri and Miku didn’t get much supplies, forcing the hosts’ midfielders to come up with alternative plans to find their hitmen.

As a stifled BFC struggled to force the pace, CFC started to grow in confidence. They could have been 2-0 ahead by the 34th minute but their ace striker Jeje Lalpekhlua squandered two great chances.

In the 19th minute, Gregory Nelson sent a superb through ball to Jeje but the 27-year-old shot wide. Then in the 33rd minute, Jeje intercepted a horrendous back pass from BFC’s Rahul Bheke but unable to control the bounce, he shot wide. Two minutes later, CFC’s Germanpreet Singh unleashed a ripper from 25 yards but BFC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu forced a fine save.

With Chennaiyin looking lethal on the counter-attacks and trying to hurt BFC for a third time at their fortress, the Blues decided to tighten things up at their end. They cut out the adventure and embraced caution as both teams slugged it out in the midfield.

Then, in the 41st minute, out of nowhere BFC stroked ahead. Following a few loose clearances, the ball fell to Xisco Hernandez who picked out an unmarked Miku. The Spaniard, speeding ahead, rifled the ball into the top corner.

The second half saw considerably more action and some strong tackles as well. With Chennaiyin forced to make the attacks, BFC got a couple of decent chances but hasty finishing meant none of them could be converted. It didn’t matter as their defenders held firm to kick-off the season on a winning note.

 

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Miku strike lights up BFC show

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