Bengaluru FC were out-played by a visiting East Bengal FC masterminded by Trevor Morgan.. .
The Red and Gold pulled off a famous 3-1 win at the home of the reigning I-League champions with goals from Wedson Anselme and a Robin Singh brace, which saw off Albert Roca’s men. The Steelmen breached the Kolkatan’s defence thanks to a late goal from CK Vineeth.
Bengaluru’s troubles in their defence prompted Albert Roca to ring in the changes with Eugeneson Lyngdoh dropping to the bench. The Spaniard went with a back 3 that had pure centre-backs in Juanan, Sandesh Jhingan and Salam Ranjan Singh. Cameron Watson was given more freedom to drive the team forward. Sunil Chhetri played in a more central role dropping off CK Vineeth with Sena Ralte, Udanta Singh and Harmanjot Khabra adding the width.
Trevor Morgan went with a clear plan to pressurise the opposition centre backs and play on the counter. Robin Singh, Chris Payne and Nikhil Poojary were part of a front 3 that interchanged positions at will. The midfield started as a 4-3-3 but morphed into a diamond with Wedson Anselme playing on the right of a midfield 4 with Robin at the tip.
Match highlights: East Bengal 3-1 Bengaluru FC
Both teams took their time to settle in, but it was the away side that signalled their intentions clearly as they constantly looked for balls over the top of the defence for Robin to run on to. Mehtab Hossain played at the base of the diamond with Rowling Borges on the left.
Bengaluru on the other hand hoped to add more height and solidity to their backline with the change in system. However, their attacking play was kept at bay by the imposing centre back pairing of Ivan Bukenya and Gurwinder Singh. The pattern of the home side’s play was too predictable as they built possession patiently in midfield but always looked to go wide. The home team were also guilty of not attacking the second balls in their aerial duels.
The away side deservedly took the lead when a Bengaluru attack fizzled out and Bukenya released Wedson to the right who had acres of space in front of him. While Chris Payne made the run on the opposite end of the box, the Haitian dribbled past Juanan and let loose a left footed curler that beat Arindam in the goal. It was only the second goal that the champions have conceded at home this season.
Roca made a tactical switch by shifting Khabra to the left side of midfield and asking Udanta to move to a right wing back position. Khabra was tasked to protect the left side and make driving runs forward. The move almost had the intended effect as Khabra’s presence freed Vineeth and Chhetri from the attentions of the East Bengal midfield.
Roca rang in the changes at half time with Salam Ranjan Singh making way for striker Daniel Lalhlimpuia. the Blues were now a 4-3-3 with Chhetri playing the role of creator behind Daniel, Vineeth and Udanta. The change nearly brought the home side on terms as Udanta’s cut back was not cleared by the opposition defence and Chhetri’s shot was just shy of Rehensh’s left hand post.
The home side were on the ascendancy as the East Bengal defence were for the first time in the game troubled. Watson’s cross was headed down by Chhetri back into the business area, but Udanta could not keep his shot down. The home side would be made to pay for that miss. Wedson dribbled his way again into a dangerous position and laid it wide for captain Robert Lalthlamuana to whip in a cross for Robin Singh to head home. The former BFC striker has now scored in both goals against his former employers.
The misery was compounded as the visitors tripled their lead when Chris Payne headed down from a cross into the penalty box for Robin Singh to lash home his second for the night. The champions were being cut to pieces with some poor defending and lackadaisical passing. The champions were losing their discipline as tackles went flying in with Sandesh Jhingan getting himself booked for a rash challenge on Robin Singh. Chhetri was next in the referees book as the official as his attempt to take a quick free kick saw him clash with Mehtab Hossain who went down clutching his knee. The India captain received a yellow card for the foul and saw a melee of players from both teams.
Roca finally brought on Eugeneson to add more guile to his attacking third and immediately the champions looked more menacing.
The home side pulled one back in the dying embers of the game as a slick passing move saw Udanta’s cut back put away by CK Vineeth. The home team refused to give up as the Blues nearly made it 2 from 2 minutes as Udanta’s shot was spilled by Rehensh, but was hacked clear before a Bengaluru player could convert it.
Despite their huge advantage, the Red and Gold were in no mood to let their opponents have it easy as they chased each pass with equal vigour. While the Blues threatened in patches, the table toppers held on for a win that laid a marker for the rest of the league. Roca on the other hand will have plenty to ponder on as he saw his team lose their perfect home record this season.
Man of the match: Robin Singh