Margao, Nov 23:
Bengaluru FC accounted for FC Goa 2-1 in a fiery Hero Indian Super League encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here Thursday.
Rahul Bheke opened the scoring with an improvised backheel flick in the 34th minute. Both teams were reduced to 10 men after the restart as Mohammad Ali and Dimas Delgado were sent off.
Brandon Fernandes equalised for the hosts in the 72nd minute but Sunil Chhetri notched the winner for Bengaluru five minutes later.
The win takes Bengaluru — only unbeaten side in the ISL — level on points with FC Goa at the top of the table with two games in hand over the Gaurs.
Bengaluru had the first sight of goal after Chencho Gyeltshen and Udanta Singh combined well on the right flank. The Indian winger delivered a teasing ball across the face of goal, but Mohammad Nawaz punched it away from danger.
At the other end, Carlos Pena’s cross from the left was intercepted by Juanan at the near post but the ball fell to Hugo Boumous whose close-range shot was brilliantly saved by Gurpreet Singh.
Hugo Boumous’ defence-splitting through-ball midway through the first-half allowed Seriton Fernandes to sneak in behind the Bengaluru defence but Gurpreet was alert to the situation and got to the ball in a jiffy.
The visitors took the lead in the 34th minute when Delgado’s corner-kick fell to Xisco Hernandez at the edge of the box. The Spaniard’s weak shot was gorgeously flicked into the net by Bheke at the far post.
The defender almost doubled his side’s lead at the stroke of half-time after Mourtada Fall’s poor first touch gifted him the ball inside the box. Bheke’s effort, however, skimmed off the crossbar.
The hosts were reduced to 10 men two minutes into the second-half when Ali picked up a second yellow card. The full-back pushed the ball away with his hand to prevent Xisco from getting to it on the right flank and received a second yellow card. Bengaluru were also dealt a blow at the hour mark when Delgado was shown a straight red card for a high-footed tackle on Hugo Boumous.
The game stretched in midfield as Goa sought an equaliser.
Chhetri found Nishu Kumar in space down the left flank and the full-back used his first touch to skip past Seriton Fernandes into the box and forced a good low save from Nawaz.
Goa got their equaliser in the 72nd minute when Ferran Corominas fought his way into the box through a crowd of defenders and found Brandon in the centre. The Indian midfielder slotted the ball into the net, helped by a deflection.
Bengaluru restored their lead five minutes later. Thongkhosiem Haokip played Udanta Singh into space on the right flank and the Indian winger delivered a terrific cross to the far post where Chhetri lost his marker and headed home to secure all three points for his side.