Bengaluru FC debuts with impressive 1-1 draw against Mohun Bagan

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Bengaluru FC’s blue brigade were minutes short of crowning a fairytale start to their debut I-League season but conceded in the last minute to draw 1-1 against Mohun Bagan in front of a packed Bangalore Football Stadium, in Bangalore, on Sunday.

Bengaluru FC coach Ashley Westwood started with striker Sean Rooney and the Australian justified the choice with a smart tap in from a Vishal Kumar cross in the 49th minute that sent the home fans into raptures. Rooney and Bengaluru FC had the best chance to make it 2-0 only two minutes later when Keegan Pereira was brought down in the box. Rooney struck the penalty hard but Bagan ’Keeper Sandip Nandy guessed correct.

John Johnson Bengaluru FCEarly in the game, Bengaluru FC found themselves on the wrong side of a penalty decision when Pereira tripped Katsumi Yusa in the box. With no Odafa on the team, Yusa stepped up to take the penalty only to see it saved by Bengaluru ’keeper Pawan Kumar.  Yusa was a constant threat but lacked support. He even grazed the bar twice. CS Sabeeth pulled off Bagan’s rescue act, heading home from a corner in injury time.

It was one-way traffic for most spells of the game with Bengaluru FC passing the ball around smartly. Midfielder John Menyongar was orchestrating things in the middle and the wings played a perfect second fiddle. Giving good advertisement of the club’s attacking style of play, Westwood threw in Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh. The two instantly combined in a move that should have finished with a goal. Singh launched one from the right straight at Chhetri’s feet but the club captain fired wide.

Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa was happy with the result and admitted that Bengaluru FC would be the team to watch this season. “They gave a really good account of themselves and will be the team to watch. In a month you will come back and tell me that we earned a point here,” he said.

Westwood was a bit disappointed at not having walked away with three points he thought his boys deserved. “We do feel hard done but that’s how it is. We played some good football but were left to rue our finishing. The boys have worked hard all through pre-season and it’s showing. The crowd was fantastic today and we want them to keep backing us like the way they did,” said Westwood.

In what was a seemingly harsh decision, Bengaluru FC midfielder Thoi Singh got sent off for a second bookable foul toward the end of the game. Bagan too had a chance in the dying minutes of added time when Eric Muranda was set free on the left. However, a superb tackle by John Johnson made sure Bengaluru weren’t robbed. Benglauru FC winger Malemnganba Meitei was awarded man of the match.

Result: Bengaluru FC 1 (Rooney 45’) Mohun Bagan 1 (Sabeeth 90)

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