The Blues maintain their perfect recordas Mumbai slump to first defeat of the season…

CK Vineeth’s hattrick gave reigning champions Bengaluru FC a comprehensive 3-0 win over Santosh Kashyap’s Mumbai FC at the Kanteerava stadium in Bengaluru. The 31 year old has now made it four goals from two games.

Albert Roca as expected brought back Cameron Watson into the fold and gave Nishu Kumar his first start of the season, replacing the marauding Sena Ralte. CK Vineeth started in place of Daniel Lalrempuia to give a physical presence up front for the Blues. Santosh Kashyap set up his team on a positive note with a 3-5-1-1 formation with U-22 player Hitesh Sharma supporting forward Victorino Fernandes.

Both teams started the game on an extremely cagey note with the sides cancelling each other out in midfield. Mumbai’s forwards were particularly impressive pressuring the Bengaluru defenders off the ball. India veteran Steven Dias was particularly impressive down the right as he gave Nishu Kumar a torrid time with his ability to find space and punt crosses into the area.

The Steelmen attempted to go over the top of the Mumbai defence with Juanan and Lenny Rodrigues attempting to find the wingers and CK Vineeth with their lobs. Santosh Kashyap sensed that his 3-man defence strategy could risk being exposed and reacted as early as the 20th minute by hauling off midfielder Lalchhawnkima for defender Chinta Rao Chandrashekar. Mumbai were playing a 4-4-2 now.

The fans had to wait till the 26th minute for a clear chance as CK Vineeth was slipped through by Sunil Chhetri. The former Prayag United striker beat his marker, but could not keep his shot down.

The Blues have had a perfect start to the season.

Cameron Watson’s dangerous corner in the 43rd minute found the head of Harmanjot Khabra whose powerful header was beaten away by Mumbai custodian Laxmikant Kattimani. However, Roca’s men were not to be denied in first half stoppage time as the impressive Udanta Singh found CK Vineeth in the 18 yard area. The striker kept his composure and volleyed home to give the home side the lead just before the break.

The second half began with no changes from either side. The visitors worked Amrinder Singh when Reagan’s low shot was beaten away by the keeper. The home side would have the better start as Udanta Singh drifted inside and teed up an onrushing Khabra whose low cross was met with conviction by CK Vineeth to make it 2-0 for the Blues.

Roca smelt blood and immediately brought on Roby Norales for Udanta. Kashyap hauled off Dias and brought on winger Nikhil Kadam. CK Vineeth completed his hattrick when Khabra lofted the ball into the box. The striker controlled it well and smashed it past Kattimani to make it 3-0.

Roca gave new signing Sandesh Jhingan his first appearance in a Blue shirt as he replaced the impressive Harmanjot Khabra. 

The reigning I-League champions slowed the tempo of the game with patient passing, but still had time for a triple chance when Norales, Chhetri and Lenny were unable to find a fourth. Roca’s men will be happy with the 9 points and now face a trip to Kolkata giants East Bengal on Sunday. 

Man of the Match: CK Vineeth