The Blues started their ISL 2021-22 campaign in style on Saturday.

Bengaluru FC picked up an emphatic win over Khalid Jamil’s NorthEast United in the Indian Super League (ISL) on Saturday. Strikes from Cleiton Silva, Jayesh Rane and Prince Ibara along with Mashoor Shereef’s own goal proved enough for this triumph. Silva opened the goalscoring for Marco Pezzaiuoli and his boys but former Blue Deshorn Brown soon equalized for the Highlanders.

This was followed by three more goals in the first half itself – Mashoor Shereef’s unfortunate strike in an attempt to clear the ball, Mathias Coureur’s equalizer in the 25th minute and Jayesh Rane’s sublime finish in the 42nd minute.

In the second half, Pezzaiuoli quickly brought in Pratik Chaudhari and Leon Augustine. However, Leon picked up an injury soon after and was hence replaced by eventual goalscorer and debutant Prince Ibara. The Congolese international comfortably scored in the 82nd minute sealing the Blues’ win.

Both teams though, had to battle immense rain at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa. Its impact was particularly witnessed in the first half – when there were multiple instances of slides, giveaways and other sloppy plays. And this led to an almost equally-matched goal-filled initial 45 minutes. Nonetheless, it was Marco Pezzaiuoli and his boys who emerged victorious in the end. Following the game, the 53-year-old head coach of the Blues spoke at the post-match press conference.

On Jayesh Rane’s performance

First up, he shared his thoughts on Jayesh Rane’s performance in midfield. Rane wasn’t just a goalscorer but also the most agile player on the pitch tonight.

“I think Jayesh scored a very good goal. I think 3-2 (in the first half) was very important to win the game. I think he has a lot of potential to increase (improve). It wasn’t his best game but he was still working hard and scored a goal. It’s very important for an offensive midfielder to be inside the box and score,” he said.

Reason for substituting Udanta Singh

Further, the tactician was asked about the reasons behind his early substitution of ace right winger Udanta Singh. In other words, whether it was a tactical decision or if it had to do anything with his fitness.

To this, he responded, “Of course, with (for) his fitness. He was with the national team and he had no pre season at all. Afterwards, he was sick for eight days when he lost many training sessions. But also, we have very (a lot of) potential on the bench — Leon (Augustine) and Prince (Ibara) on the right wing. We have good players whom we can bring inside. That’s why I wanted to give other players who did well in the pre season, the possibility (chance) to play.”

Watch press conference here

Performance comparison (first half vs second half)

“Of course, the second half was better; the ball possession was better. In the first half, defending wise, we lost the ball too fast. Defending wise, we weren’t too good on the man (man marking) specially in the box. I think the second half was much much better in (the) case of scoring goals and ball possession. But still, there’s a lot of space to increase (room for improvement);” Marco Pezzaiuoli said, when asked about his observations on the difference between the first and second 45 minutes.

Thoughts on defensive line

Finally, Pezzaiuoli spoke on his side’s restructured defence with the duo of Yrondu Musavu-King and Alan Costa as centre-backs and Ajith Kumar and Ashique Kuruniyan on the flanks.

“Nothing. It’s just one game. We got (concede) two goals. It’s one game. I won’t make a big issue out of it. We are working tomorrow again and (will) prepare for the Odisha game. I do not (want to) make a big issue out of it. I know what my defenders can do. They can do better. They know it themselves. But let’s see the positives. We won 4-2 in the first game after a six month break. I think that’s important,” he signed off.

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