Bengaluru FC crowned I-League champions

Bengaluru FC crowned I-League champions

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Image Courtesy: © Facebook - BFC

Bengaluru FC sealed their second I-League title on Sunday after defeating Salgaocar 2-0 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Seminlen Doungel scored goals for the Blues to give the team an unassailable lead at the top of the table, with one match remaining in the season.

Starting Line-ups:

Bengaluru FC: Amrinder Singh (GK), Rino Anto, John Johnson, Curtis Osano, Lalchhuan Mawia, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Malsawmzuala, Michael Collins, Udanta Singh, Sunil Chhetri (c), Kim Song-Yong

Salgaocar: Karanjit (GK), Reagan, Eder, Leny, Manandeep, Keenan, Jackichand, Aslon, Saran, Scott, Gilbert

With just two more points needed to clinch the I-League title, Bengaluru FC welcomed Salgaocar FC for their penultimate match of the season. After having rested majority of the first team players for the AFC Cup match against Ayeyawady United, coach Ashley Westwood brought back all the star players in an attempt to win the title in front of the home fans.

On the other hand, Salgaocar reached the Garden City on the back of a five-match unbeaten run, which included wins against East Bengal, Shillong Lajong and Aizawl. With their key striker Darryl Duffy suspended for the fixture, the Goan club started with Manandeep Singh upfront.

With the title in their sights, the home sided got off to the perfect start as Eugeneson Lyngdoh put them ahead in the 8th minute. Salgaocar goalie Karanjit came out to punch a cross from Bengaluru left-back Lalchhuan Mawia and his weak punch put the ball into the path of the midfielder. With Karanjit caught in no man’s land, the Indian International placed the ball into the back of the net to put the home side ahead.

The away side looked lost at times in the match with the Bengaluru FC midfield dominating all the play. With his team struggling in the midfield, Salgaocar coach Santhosh Kashyap brought on midfielder Brian Mascarenhas in place of U-22 player Aslon Olivera in the 23rd minute to restore some stability at the centre of the midfield.

Bengaluru FC looked dangerous every time they attacked and Karanjit Singh more than made up for his mistake by pulling off some good saves to keep the scores 1-0 at the break. On the other hand, Salgaocar struggled against the home side’s high pressing tactics and only managed one credible shot on target in the first forty-five, which came from Manandeep Singh in the 35th minute.

With one light tower at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium playing hide and seek, the second half got underway after a bit of a delay. Although, the light tower switched off, the home side did not show any sign of switching off as they continued their passing game in the middle of the park. Salgaocar passed the ball around with hope rather than conviction in the second half as the match slowly moved ahead.

The scoreline was in Bengaluru FC’s favour and with them needing just two points to seal the title, and Ashley Westwood’s side slowly went through their paces to run the clock down. Salgaocar never looked like scoring and seemed vulnerable in defence most of the time.

With the away side putting no effort to trouble Bengaluru FC, the home side pushed forward in the final minutes and put the game to bed in the 87 minute through a goal from second-half substitute Seminlen Doungel. Skipper Sunil Chhetri ran down the left and squared it to Seminlen Doungel in the middle for an easy tap in to seal their second I-League crown. Salgaocar also went a man down in the final minutes after Thangjam Singh received his second yellow card for a foul.

Mumbai FC vs Shillong Lajong

In the other match of the day, bottom-placed Mumbai FC defeated fellow relegation rivals Shillong Lajong 2-1 to jump to seventh, leaving Shillong in the relegation place. Veteran midfielder Steven Dias put Mumbai FC ahead in the 41st minute after curling one into the top corner from a free-kick. However, Anwar Ali’s foul in the box in the 55th minute paved way for a penalty and Brazilian forward Fabio Pena coolly slotted into the back of the net to score the equaliser.

But, Shillong goalie Vishal Kaith’s blunder four minutes from time gave Mumbai three valuable points after Min-Chol Son’s header was put into his own net by Kaith. With the win, Mumbai FC got themselves out of the foot off the table and piles pressure on Shillong with just one match remaining in the season. 

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