The talismanic striker scored the only goal of the games in the second half as the Blues sealed a vital win…

In what was a must-win encounter for Bengaluru fc to harbour any hopes of progression to the next round of the AFC Cup, the 2016 finalists squared off against Maziya Sports and Recreation (MDV) at the Kanteerava stadium in Bengaluru. Despite a laboured performance, the Blues won courtesy a special free kick from Captain Fantastic Sunil Chhetri.

Albert Roca went in with his first choice 11 sans Lenny Rodrigues and Udanta Singh. The Spaniard set up his team in a 3-5-2 that became a 5-4-1 while defending.

Marjan Sekulovski went bold with his selection with a 4-3-3 designed to hit the home team on the counter knowing fully well that the home team is more likely to boss possession.

As expected Bengaluru began to take control of the ball right from the get go. CK Vineeth’s smart backheel on the right byline set up Harmanjot Khabra whose cross flashed across the face of the Maziya goal. Maziya looked edgy in the initial few minutes but managed to fashion a chance when they saw a left footed snapshot whiz past Amrinder’s left hand post.

Alwyn George, who started in place of Lenny Rodrigues, showed twinkle toes to jinx past 3 Maziya players but tried one dribble too many when the better option was to take the shot.

But it was the visitors who created the better chances as Ali Samooh’s dangerous in swinging cross was met by a fierce header from Aleksandar Rakic which cannoned off the post. The home team tried to play through the middle of the park but did not find a wide outlet that usually Udanta offered. Neither Khabra nor Nishu Kumar were able to provide the necessary width for Sunil Chhetri, CK Vineeth and Eugeneson to thrive.

AFC Cup 2017 Match Highlights: Bengaluru FC 1-0 Maziya SRC 

The home side appeared jaded after the Federation Cup and it showed when miscommunication from the BFC backline saw Yasfaadh’s shot well saved by Amrinder. Ali Samooh continued to cause Nishu and Juanan problems with his direct running and his fierce shot was again met by a strong punch from Amrinder.

Both teams went into the break 0-0, but Maziya clearly looked the more likely to break the deadlock.

Roca’s side started the second half very strongly as Nishu Kumar’s driving run opened up the Maziya defence and his cutback fell to Chhetri whose shot was blocked by a Maziya defender.

The scoring was finally opened just before the hour mark. The Blues received a free kick outside the Maziya box. In what was a quiet game by his standards, Sunil Chhetri showed why he was still the main man in this Bengaluru team as his free kick beat Matiash Pavel in the Maziya goal to make it 1-0 to Roca’s side.

The home side had a major let off just a few minutes after taking the lead as the Bengaluru defence made a hash of clearing their lines and this resulted in the ball being laid on a platter begging to be smashed home, but only ended up being miskicked for a Bengaluru goalkick.