Bengaluru FC opened their account in the 2022-23 2nd Division League with a 2-1 win over FC Bengaluru United at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Monday. A first-half strike from Leon Augustine and a penalty from Namgyal Bhutia were enough to get the Blue Colts over the line, as they began their Group C campaign on a winning note.
Earlier, Bengaluru FC head coach Kaizad Ambapardiwala named a team that had Wungngayam Muirang, Bhutia, Robin Yadav and Biswa Darjee in the backline. Striker Harmanpreet Singh captained the side, flanked by Leon and Ashish Jha on either side.
The game got off to a slow start, with chances few and far between in the opening exchanges. The Blue Colts dominated most of the possession in the early part of the game as the Fernando Santiago Valera-coached Bengaluru United looked to hit on the counter-attack.
The first big chance of the game came the way of Bengaluru FC in the 25th minute, as Damaitphang Lyngdoh struck a well-timed shot from the edge of the box. But United ‘keeper Kabir Toufik put out a strong hand to parry the midfielder’s attempt.
Bengaluru United made an early change, just before the half-hour mark, with Valera bringing on Karthik Govindswamy, who captained the victorious Karnataka Santosh Trophy team, in place of Sushil Meitei.
The heat of the battle took over after the half-hour mark with the tackles flying in on both ends of the pitch. Bengaluru keeper Gope was handed his marching orders for dissent, by referee Ritesh Parsekar minutes shy of the break. Coach Ambapardiwala was forced into making a change as Lyngdoh came off to be replaced by substitute keeper Lara Sharma.
Amrit’s dismissal did little to deter the Blue Colts, as they got themselves into the lead through Leon in the 40th minute. The winger got past his marker and met a low cross from Harmanpreet to score from close range and open Bengaluru FC’s account.
Just before the break, the Blue Colts were forced to make another change as Harmanpreet had to be replaced by Kamalesh Palanisamy, after the forward went down with an injury. A battle of pace and physicality ensued in the second period as Bengaluru United looked to get themselves back in the game while Bengaluru FC looked to add to their lead.
In the 68th minute, Muirang’s free-kick was handled in the box, prompting referee Parsekar to point to the spot. Up stepped Bhutia who sent the keeper the wrong way before slotting into the top right-hand corner to double Bengaluru FC’s lead.
Bhutia was in the thick of things at the other end of the pitch, when his tackle on Graffenberg Jurwa saw Bengaluru United handed a lifeline in the form of a spot-kick. Irfan Yadwad smashed home, sending Lara the wrong way, to reduce the deficit with quarter of an hour to go.
Ambapardiwala made three changes, bringing on Clarence Fernandes, Satendra Singh and Harpreet Singh in place of Amay Morajkar, Leon and Jha in a bid to see out the game, which the Blue Colts’ managed with little fuss.
Bengaluru FC face Golden Threads FC in their next Group C encounter at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Friday, March 17.