FC Goa canceled out Bengaluru FC’s two-goal lead in the second half and salvaged a point to end their Durand Cup campaign on a high. Two quick-fire first-half goals from Sunil Chhetri and Sivasakhti put Bengaluru FC ahead only to be negated by strikes from Phrangki Buam and Lesly Rebello.
A cagey affair between the two sides but Bengaluru FC’s one point was enough for them to chalk up their entry to the quarter-final stages of the Durand Cup. The Blues were dealt with an early setback as Prince Ibarra was stretchered off after he pulled a muscle in his leg, with Sivasakthi replacing him.
In the 24th minute, skipper Sunil Chhetri drew first blood for his side from a magnificent free-kick with a shot targeted towards the far post as custodian Hrithik Tiwari couldn’t maneuver a save.
No sooner than three minutes into the game, substitute Sivasakthi doubled the lead for the Blues with a tap-in provided by a header from Udanta Singh after Bruno Ramires put a beautiful diagonal ball to find Singh on the left.
With two goals already in, the Blues took charge of the game and looked confident since then. Chhetri almost tripled his side’s lead after a shot from an identical free-kick position was tipped away by Lesly in the FC Goa goal. Looking sharp throughout the game, Chhetri and Co. had the edge over the Gaurs with two goals in the opening 45 minutes.
The boys in Orange struck back with a goal after a blunder by a BFC player led to Phrangki Buam taking hold of the loose ball as he went round the keeper and slotted it in an empty net to reduce his side’s deficit to one goal.
Simon Grayson’s men started mounting pressure on the young Goa side through a quick counter-attack with some sizzling triangular play between Udanta Singh, Sunil Chhetri, and Sivasakthi with the final pass being delivered to Sivasakthi but the midfielder’s venomous shot was denied by Hrithik Tiwari who closed the doors for BFC’s third goal.
The attack tilted to the other side of the pitch in the 64th minute as the Gaurs’ skipper Lesly restored parity after netting a goal through the legs of the Blues’ keeper as his side took advantage of the unsettled defenders and brought the game back to square one. The game went on staggered from one end of the pitch to the other, with no clear side being dominant as the game ended with FC Goa drawing curtains with a stunning second-half comeback.
Bengaluru FC plays their final game of the group stage against Mohammedan on Thursday while the defending champions bid goodbye to their Durand Cup campaign.
Hyderabad FC keep winning streak intact, beat NEROCA FC 3-0
Hyderabad FC attained full points and secured qualification to the quarterfinals as they beat NEROCA FC 3-0 in their Group C fixture of the Durand Cup at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal on Tuesday. A Joel Chianese strike (2’) at the daybreak of the game followed by a Bartholomew Ogbeche brace (17’, 82’) kept the I-League side at bay as the Manuel Marquez-led side consolidated their position at the top of the points table and earned qualification to the knockout stages.
It took less than two minutes for Hyderabad FC to draw first blood and get the lead as brilliant teamwork between four players resulted in full-back Akash Mishra putting in a low cross into the box, which after being deflected from a Bartholomew Ogbeche shot, fell through to Joel Chianese with the Australian slotting it home with a simple tap-in to make it 1-0.
The reigning champions of the Hero ISL asserted their dominance again as they netted their second goal of the evening in the 17th minute after a delightful play that started in the midfield with Chhangte and Borja Herrera, and ended with their goal machine, Bartholomew Ogbeche, converting it from a header.
NEROCA FC was just getting outplayed every time they had the ball as the Yellow and Blacks were superior in every department off the ball as well as with the ball. Manuel Marquez’ men kept the momentum going with their high-intensity game as Borja Herrera linked up well with Joel Chianese with a cracking pass from the midfield but the latter’s shot was denied by the NEROCA FC goalkeeper Poirei.
In the 41st minute, NEROCA FC suffered a big blow as David Simbo had to be stretchered off after colliding mid-air and sustaining a head injury. Hyderabad FC enjoyed the majority of the possession and made the most from the left channel through Chhangte who kept whipping in crosses but the men in yellow couldn’t convert those chances.
Continuously creeping into the NEROCA FC defense, Akash Mishra comfortably dribbled past two defenders on the left to provide Javier Siverio with a clear finish but the midfielder couldn’t get his shot past the keeper.
Siverio had another big chance skewed as he hit the woodwork after Fernandes put in a well-placed cross inside the box but that didn’t stop Hyderabad FC as they continued to give NEROCA FC a hard time with their fluidic movement and persistent, quick build-up plays. In the 82nd minute, Ogbeche adds a third to the tally for his side as he is fed a low cross at the edge of the box by Hitesh Sharma, and the striker nets a prolific strike.
The Hero ISL champions play Army Red next on Saturday while NEROCA FC clash against Chennaiyin FC two days later.