A game that meant so much for both teams was settled by a trio of penalties as Bengaluru FC headed into the winter break on top...
Bengaluru FC registered a 2-1 victory over Salgaocar FC and ended the year on a high as they lead the standings. Sunil Chhetri's penalty in the first half was cancelled out by Gilbert Oliviera in the 86th minute. However Robin Singh's spot-kick in the injury time won three points for his side.
Coach Ashley Westwood welcomed John Johnson into the line-up after the centre-back was absent in the last tie due to suspension. Sunil Chhetri, Sean Rooney and Beikhokhei Beingaichho formed a three-man attack.
Salgaocar FC's latest recruit midfielder Freiman Peixoto was named on the bench as Rocus Lamare and Clifton Dias were the two central midfielders.
Bengaluru FC were on the backfoot immediately as Salgaocar launched a number of attacks down the left. Matthew Foschini first had a 40 yard free-kick saved and deflected out for a corner by Pawan Kumar. Then, the resulting corner caused a melee in the box before Foschini again managed to launch it over from just 15 yards out.
Salgaocar continued to threaten and they initiated a successful counter after Siam Hangal tried to launch a solo attack down Bengaluru’s left. However Salgaocar captured the ball and set Rocus Lamare off who was faced with an open field in front of him. He chose to pass it to Darryl Duffy on the right who had yards of space in front of him, but the Irishman took an early pass which was far too wide for Lamare and the chances went begging.
Bengaluru then had a penalty appeal turned down after Sunil Chhetri complained of handball to protect a shot.
Shortly after though, Bengaluru got the appeal upheld after Nicolau Colaco was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box from Keegan Pereira's low cross. The referee pointed to the spot and Chhetri made no mistake in thumping the ball into the top right even though Karanjit Singh guessed it right.
The home side should have doubled the advantage going into the break as Thoi Singh was sent through only for him to shoot straight at Karanjit.
The second half saw Salgaocar much more aggressive of the two as they chased for an equalizer. Foschini, on Salgaocar's left put in a low cross, that ricocheted back to him inside the box off a Bengaluru defender. His second bite of the pie was equally poor as the defenders cleared his cross as well.
Salgaocar's next chance came in the form of a deep Gilbert Oliviera free-kick which was turned away for a corner just before Foschini got his head it.
Cross after cross was wasted by Foschini as the Australian was found constantly devoid of attention on the left. Salgaocar were let off the hook as substitute Robin Singh seemed to have been fouled as he was through on goal from a clearance from his own half.
Then came the penalty, the second of the game. Gilbert Oliviera was found on the right and his low cross was adjudged to have been handled inside the box. Gilbert stepped to take the penalty as Salgaocar drew level. This was in the 86th minute and Salgaocar were going for all three points thereafter.
Robin Singh was lucky to avoid a booking as his tackle went straight into the shins of Rocus Lamare. He was to get luckier when a through ball to him in the 90th minute saw a mis-timed sliding tackle allowed the referee to point to the spot.
After much harranguing by both teams, Robin stepped up to cooly slot home the ball and keep Bengaluru on top of the table as winter eloped the I-League.
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