Thursday, March 30, 2023

B’luru FC edge past Mumbai FC in ISL 1st leg SFs

Bengaluru FC edged past ISL Shield winners Mumbai City FC, with Sunil Chhetri’s second-half goal securing a 1-0 crucial victory in the first leg of the semi-finals on Tuesday, March 7.
Backed by their supporters, hosts Mumbai City were electric in the opening stages. Greg Stewart had the Islanders’ first clear-cut chance in the 12th minute.
Following some stunning intricate football, left-back Vignesh Dakshinamuthy whipped in a cross which found Stewart’s head. But Gurpreet Singh Sandhu parried it away to keep the scores level.
Their dominance was demonstrated by the fact that they had seven shots in the first 20 minutes, while Bengaluru FC had none. Nonetheless, the Blues, as they have been throughout the year, were resolute at the back and restricted their opponents.
The first half of an action-packed semifinal comes to an end with both teams yet to ripple the net.
Mumbai City FC came close to scoring once again around the half-hour mark. Stewart, who was pulling the strings in midfield, found space and his deft pass was nearly tucked into the net by Jorge Pereyra Diaz. But Sandhu made the brave choice to rush forward and denied the striker his 12th goal of the season.
On the other end of the pitch, BFC struggled to get going, often losing the ball in the middle of the park. It took them 45 minutes to get a pop at goal, but Roshan Singh’s shot was saved by Phurba Lachenpa.
Despite some end-to-end action during the intense first half, the score remained 0-0.
Des Buckingham’s outfit began the second half in similar fashion, dominating possession and targeting spaces in midfield. However, they appeared to have missed out on their shooting boots at crucial moments.
Sunil Chhetri was introduced around the hour mark and certainly made a huge difference. The Blues looked dangerous on the counter-attack and the skipper himself had a chance to score, which he failed to capitalize on.
While Chhetri added intensity to Bengaluru FC, Alberto Noguera, who replaced Ahmed Jahouh, provided a solid presence in the final third for the Islanders.
Following tight battles in midfield, Lachenpa was called into action courtesy of a stunning long-range effort by Prabir Das. But BFC finally broke the deadlock from the resulting corner in the 79th minute.
Roshan Singh’s corner found an unmarked Chhetri in the six-yard box, whose towering header hit the back of the net.
Mumbai City threw bodies forward with the hope of scoring an equalizer, but Bengaluru FC were resolute at the back. Moreover, Chhetri had two late chances to double the lead but Lachenpa came to his side’s rescue on both occasions.
The game ended with a scoreline of 1-0, with the Blues skipper once again making the difference. Simon Grayson will be delighted with the one-goal advantage when the two sides meet again for the second leg at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday, March 12.


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