With the win, Bengaluru FC extended their unbeaten run to four games.

Bengaluru FC provided their loyal supporters with a massive result against Southern rivals Chennaiyin, beating them 3-1 and climbing up to sixth on the table. Two quickfire goals from Sivasakthi Narayanan and a third goal by Rohit Kumar before half-time helped BFC to a three-goal lead at half-time.

BFC made the most out of Chennaiyin’s defensive errors and withstood wave after wave of attacks by the visitors in the second half. Vanspaul scored just under the hour mark, but a mixture of poor finishing and good defending helped the Blues to their fourth win on the bounce. Simon Grayson spoke to the media after the result, and read what we had to say.

Thoughts on the performance

BFC showed their might in the first half, Roy and Siva stretched the CFC defence and forced errors with their pressing and closing down. Simon Grayson felt that there was a foul on Rohit during the build-up for Chennaiyin’s solitary goal, “When I analyse the game, the first half was very good. Our midfield shape was very good, we nullified them whenever they asked questions. We defended well.”

“We got two strikers who can create gaps in the areas and were ruthless, could have got a fourth at half-time and Siva’s hattrick would have been game over. Last time against Odisha we conceded very quickly. Looking at the goal, I think it is a foul on Rohit. In the second half, they threw bodies forward and we did not keep possession well enough. We won 3-1 in a local derby, a vital match, and now four in a trot, which is very pleasing,”

Siva and Rohit’s performance

Rohit Kumar has now scored in three consecutive games and has performed his defensive duties in midfield. Siva’s brace means he has four goals this season. Simon Grayson praised the duo for grasping their opportunities, “They (Siva and Rohit) have waited patiently for opportunities; we got a strong bench at this moment in time. Aleks is injured, and we have got good options now. When players get opportunities after being patient, they got to make sure they do whatever to stay in the team.

Rohit’s all-around game has been very good, and Siva is a goalscorer. He’s quick and works extremely hard. He got left out of the team because all players go through ups and downs. You sometimes have to take players out for a period of time, but he has come back with freshness and spark. There was some concern on Thursday when he pulled up in training, but it was more of a precaution. With his calmness in front of the goal, so many players would be fazed by a one-on-one situation, but not him. He slotted them away as if he was Sunil Chhetri in his prime.”

The rub of the green

While BFC was bogged down by narrow defeats in the first half of the season, the new year has brought renewed hope among the ranks. Grayson spoke of being level-headed, “Even through the defeats, I have never wavered away and been too down. The performances were not far away. Mistakes were made. Now we just seem to have nullified the opportunities and look ruthless in front of the goal. I’m not going to swing in from a chandelier thinking we cracked anything. We won four in the trot but have achieved nothing. With four games to go, put ourselves in a great position. We gotta remain level-headed, work hard and look ahead to the next game.”

Sivasakthi’s precautionary substitution

Despite scoring two goals and narrowly missing out on a hattrick, Sivasakthi came off for Udanta in the 67th minute. Simon Grayson explained the reason, “Siva coming off was both a precaution and due to the match scenario. Before when we needed to chase a game, we changed to a back-4 but today we felt that we needed those players in the wide areas to stop the balls coming in and he (Siva) did a good job out there. He’s a product of our B team and has a lot to learn still and a long way to go. He’s got a great attitude and a really good kid.”

Cracking atmosphere at the fortress

The Kanteerava was back in full voice to push the Blues over the line, and Grayson expects the support to get better, “The atmosphere tonight was great. We knew early on in the season that we have three massive fixtures to round off our season, and I’m sure this place will be rocking in a few weeks’ time.”

An unchanged squad is a sign of the team doing well

Grayson has named an unchanged side for three games in a row. Against Chennaiyin, Chhetri did not make an appearance. The coach explained that players are making their choice easy by taking their opportunities, “If you are winning games and the team is playing well, you don’t change things too much. We have picked up lots of injuries and still haven’t had our full allocation of foreigners.

“People taking opportunities and winning matches makes my decision a lot easier. People like Pablo Perez will be disappointed he’s not had loads of time. Sunil Chhetri did not get on tonight. Strength and depth are what make a good squad. They are delighted for the team that we’ve won, disappointed as individuals but that’s part and parcel of football.”

A big confidence booster

With this victory and Odisha FC’s defeat to ATK Mohun Bagan, Bengaluru FC are now in sixth place and just within the playoff spots. Grayson said that the confidence is high in the dressing room, “It gives us a big lift that we have beaten a team in and around us, nothing is achieved at this moment in time, we analyse the game and look at good things bad things but again, the confidence level is high and confidence is a massive thing. In the first half we played with belief and that should be how we approach the games.”

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