Bengaluru FC were left frustrated, this time against Mumbai FC at the Cooperage Stadium in Mumbai as they were held to a goalless draw once again. On a night when the Blues should have come away with three points, skipper Sunil Chhetri’s shot was cleared off the line while CK Vineeth and Daniel Lalhlimpuia saw shots come close to breaking the deadlock, but it just wasn’t to be.
Back from a two-game suspension, Juan Gonzalez replaced Sena Ralte in defence while Alwyn George earned a start ahead of Eugeneson Lyngdoh as Roca stuck to two changes from the side that drew at Aizawl FC on Wednesday.
While Mumbai FC relied on lumping the ball ahead only for Salam Ranjan Singh and Sandesh Jhingan to win every aerial duel, Bengaluru FC had more than a few spells of slick possession.
The Blues best chance came from a counter where Alwyn, after exchanging passes with Udanta Singh, shot straight at Lakshmikant Kattimani when he should have picked a corner. Roca’s men had a chance to make amends within seconds when Udanta sent in a cross only for Daniel to head inches over the Mumbai FC crossbar.
Roca was forced into a substitution five minutes from the half when Amrinder Singh’s thigh, for which he received treatment early in the game, kept troubling the Blues’ shot stopper as Arindam Bhattacharya came on to mark his debut for the club since signing this summer.
Wanting to up the ante in attack after a first half that yielded no goal, Roca threw on C.K. Vineeth for Alwyn on the hour mark. With fresh feet and a bag of tricks, Vineeth came close soon after coming on. He waltzed past three yellow shirts, sneaked into the Mumbai FC box but shot wide. Only minutes later, playing off Chhetri’s smart dummy from a Watson pass, Vineeth shot straight at Kattimani where he should have looked to place the ball in.
But an under-pressure Daniel Lalhlimpuia missed the chance of the half in the 71st minute. Charging out to deal with a long ball played from the centre, Kattimani was left stranded on the edge of the box and with the ball at Lalhlimpuia’s feet. The young striker, looking to make the most of an open net but with yellow shirts on his back, ended up shooting wide.
Bengaluru FC looked to have got the lead they had been chasing all evening when Chhetri, deftly turning to lose his man in the box, shot on target and past Kattimani only for defender Djelaludin Sharityar to turn up with a save on the goal line. Lyngdoh, who came on for Lalhlimpuia, shot wide in the 87th minute after he was picked out by a perfect cross from Udanta.
The draw leaves the Blues in fourth on the I-League table, with 13 points from nine games. Roca’s men next face East Bengal at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday, February 25.