Vasco: Bengaluru FC got their I-League campaign to a winning start beating Salgaocar FC 1-2 at the Tilak Maidan, Goa, on Saturday. A 5th minute tap in from CK Vineeth and a freekick in the 61st from skipper Sunil Chhetri meant the Blues kept their 100% win record over Salgaocar in the League, intact. A penalty from Darryl Duffy had helped Salgaocar pull level late in the first half.
Westwood handed club debuts to North Korean striker Kim Song Yong and eighteen-year-old Malsawmzuala while Seiminlen Doungel was the third, coming on as a second half substitute for Vineeth. While Kim had Vineeth for company in attack, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Thoi Singh, Chhetri and summer signing Malsawmzuala formed the Blues' midfield in a 4-4-2. Zuala did well to fill in the rather big boots of Joshua Walker, who couldn't make the trip to Goa after suffering a knock on his knee.
Picked out long by Rino Anto, Kim Song Yong slid in a pass across the face of the goal only for an onrushing Vineeth to tap home from close five minutes into the first half. Looking to make the most of the perfect start, Bengaluru came out all guns blazing, creating a flurry of chances that they were guilty of not finishing off. Lyngdoh's shot from a tight angle was palmed away by Karanjit before Vineeth's attempted header went inches high of the Salgaocar frame.
The hosts weren't dishing out anything special till new signing Jackichand Singh forced a brilliant save out of Lalthuammawia Ralte in the 33rd minute. With the ball at his feet and twenty-five yards out, Jackichand cut past his marker to send a rasping strike towards the BFC goal, only for Ralte to tip over the crossbar.
Five minutes from the break, Jackichand earned Salgaocar a chance at a breakthrough, dribbling past an onrushing Curtis Osano before being tripped by Lyngdoh, prompting referee Santosh Kumar to point to the spot. Darryl Duffy sent Ralte the wrong way to end the first half with the scores level.
Bengaluru's lead came just a little beyond the hour mark when referee Kumar blew for a freekick five yards outside the box after Kim's flick caught Gurjinder Kumar's hand. With Lyngdoh and Chhetri standing over the ball, the skipper stepped up and dipped one over the wall with deftest of takes. Interestingly, this was Chhetri's first goal from a freekick in his Bengaluru FC career.
With five minutes left on the clock, Lyngdoh had a great chance to put the game beyond question when he darted off on a counter and exchange a smart one-two with Udanta Singh only to see his final shot lack sting. Same was the case with Len, who picked up a clearance from a Salgaocar free-kick to combine with Thoi but the former's strike was saved by Karanjit.
The Blues travel to face Aizawl FC on Saturday, the 16th of January, before returning to Bengaluru for their first home game of the season against Shillong Lajong on the 24th.