CK Vineeth’s 7th Minute Opener Gets Roca’s Reign Off To A Winning Start; Hands Blues Advantage For Away Leg Next Week ..
Bengaluru FC took a vital step towards their AFC Cup semifinal aspirations with a first-leg 1-0 win over Singapore side Tampines Rovers at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Wednesday.
A CK Vineeth tap-in from close in the 7th minute was enough to get coach Albert Roca’s reign off to a winning start and give the Blues an edge when they travel to Singapore for the away leg to be played on September 21.
Bengaluru were swift to put away the disappointment of playing behind closed doors, owing to the political situation in the city, when CK Vineeth landed an early blow to the visitors. The move began after Sunil Chhetri stole the ball off a Tampines player in the midfield and picked Alwyn George’s run perfectly. George was tackled just before he could pull the trigger in the box but the ball fell rather kindly to Vineeth whose tap in took a bit off the post before going in.
Earlier, Roca, playing a 4-4-2, chose to partner Vineeth with Chhetri while Nishu Kumar started in the left-back position alongside Juan Gonzalez, John Johnson and Rino Anto. Joining Gonzalez on the debutants list were midfielders Cameron Watson and Alvaro Rubio who showed more than just flashes of class.
Playing with a sense of assuredness, Bengaluru came close to doubling their lead in the 31st minute when Chhetri nodded down a cross in Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s path but Tampines shot stopper Mohamad Izwan was quick to steal it off the midfielder’s feet.
Sensing the need to nick a goal away from home, Rovers switched gears in the second half but Bengaluru had done enough to dig their heels in and take control of the game. In fact the home side will be disappointed at the number of chances they squandered, most, which if taken, could have effectively killed the tie for Tampines.
CK Vineeth made an error in judgement when, from a breakaway move in 72nd minute, he decided to shoot from in the box instead of picking an unmarked Chhetri on his left.
The Bengaluru defence didn’t give much joy to Jordan Webb, Billy Mehmet and Jermaine Pennant, constantly winning the ball and patiently building up play from the back. The Blues leave for Singapore on Sunday for the away leg.