Bengaluru FC showed why they are the best team in India when they were crowned champions of the I-League for a second time in three years beating Salgaocar FC 2-0 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday.
Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s strike in the 8th minute and Len Doungel’s tap in two minutes from time made sure Ashley Westwood’s Bengaluru exorcised the demons of last season where they fell right at the death against Mohun Bagan. This time though, the Blues ensured that there would be no last minute heartbreak as Len Doungel tapped home from two yards out in the 88th minute ensured that the tie was well and truly put to bed.
Having rested his key players for the mid-week AFC Cup tie against Ayeyawady United FC, Westwood picked the same squad that beat East Bengal spare one change. Coming back from suspension, John Johnson replaced Keegan Pereira at the centre of defence.
The Blues were handed just the start they wanted by Lyngdoh who showed why is he is considered the calmest head. Charging to punch away a long ball in the Salgaocar box, Karanjit Singh’s effort only managed to land at Lyngdoh’s feet who swiftly but simply stroked the ball into an empty net as the Kanteerava erupted in joy.
The goal was Lyngdoh’s third in four games since his two-month layoff owing to a fractured fibula and his quick revival to form showed just how much the Blues midfield missed him.
The Blues had a brilliant chance to make it two in the 28th minute when Lyngdoh cut inside on the left and sent a cross that Kim Song Yong couldn’t get a leg to from dangerously close.
Bengaluru FC threatened the Salgaocar FC citadel consistently but a surprising lack of sharpness in the final third held them back from adding to their lead. The opponents though hardly seem to trouble the defence which had the highly secure partnership of John Johnson and Curtis Osano marshalling things expertly at the back. Salgaocar came closest in the first half when striker Manandeep Singh turned his marker on the edge of the penalty area and sent a rising drive which Blues keeper Amrinder Singh did well to tip over.
In the second half, Bengaluru bossed possession, moving the ball around expertly with Michael Collins and Malsawmzuala, later replaced by Alwyn George, effectively screening the defence and breaking up the opposition attacks with alacrity.
In the 88th minute, a lovely interchange between George and Chhetri saw the Bengaluru skipper charge off towards the Salgaocar goal. The forward did well to draw the Salgaocar gloveman out before squaring the ball to Doungel who swept the ball into an unguarded net with aplomb.