There was no separating Jamshedpur FC and Bengaluru FC as the two teams played out a fascinating 0-0 draw after goalkeepers Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and TP Rehenesh were on the top of their game in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) match at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa on Monday.
Sandhu produced a string of saves in the second half to keep Jamshedpur FC out while Rehenesh was also called into action several times as the game ended goalless.
It was a close affair from the start and the first opening of the game came in the 10th minute when Udanta Singh was released on the flanks with a fine lobbed pass. The Indian winger put in a dangerous cross that was almost put into his own net by Narender Gehlot who intercepted it at the far post.
At the other end, it was Alex Lima’s turn to show off his skills as he danced past a number of Bengaluru FC defenders to fire a shot that just missed the target. After the early exchanges, the game became cagey as neither team could conjure up chances of note until the 39th minute when Rehenesh produced a fine save to deny Cleiton Silva who had headed an Ashique Kuruniyan cross on target.
The Blues ended the first half strongly as Prince Ibara went close with a header in the 44th minute but there was to be no breakthrough as the referee blew for half-time. Jamshedpur FC was quicker out of the blocks in the second half but couldn’t be decisive inside the box as a few half chances went begging. But in the 69th minute, Greg Stewart who has been Jamshedpur FC’s best player this season entered the box having dribbled past defenders to shoot at goal but Sandhu was up to the task and palmed his shot away diving low to his right.
Two minutes later, Sandhu misplaced a pass allowing Lima to intercept it and run at goal but he couldn’t keep his shot down as the chance went begging for Jamshedpur FC. Marco Pezzaiuoli brought on Sunil Chhetri in the 72nd minute to replace Silva who had been one of the better players for Bengaluru FC.
The Blues though needed Sandhu to be at his best again three minutes later when he produced back-to-back saves first to deny Peter Hartley and later to save from Jordan Murray who was played in by Stewart. At the other end, Chhetri’s header from an Ashique free-kick was deflected onto the crossbar by Alan Costa in the 84th minute as Bengaluru FC were unlucky not to net a late winner.
Ibara then had a chance deep in stoppage time to win it when Rehenesh failed to clear having come off his line but the Bengaluru FC forward couldn't score with the net virtually empty. The referee’s whistle signaled for a share of spoils in a game of many chances but no goals.
The point takes Jamshedpur FC back into second place and just three points behind Mumbai City FC while Bengaluru FC remains in tenth place. Owen Coyle’s men are back in action on Sunday when they take on Kerala Blasters FC while the Blues next face Chennaiyin FC on December 30.