East Bengal's trip to Bengaluru's parish, in a round 11 I-League clash, saw the perfect marriage of planning, ability and precision as the Kolkata team masterminded a thumping 1-3 victory at the Kanteerava stadium.
Wedson Anselme opened the scoring with a sumptuous curler into the far corner after cutting in from the left in the 23rd minute. The second half witnessed a brace from Robin Singh with the Indian national team's number nine scoring in the 54th and 59th minute respectively.
The home side made three changes to the set-up. Amrinder Singh was left out due to injury as Arindam Singh made his first start of the season. Lalmangaisangha Ralte was thrust into the team at the expense of Alwyn George, while Chekiyot Vineeth made his way into the starting XI in place of Daniel Lalhlimpuia.
Trevor Morgan approached this must-win tie for The Red and Golds by making SIX changes to the team that lost to Aizawl FC in their previous game. Robin Singh, Gurwinder Singh, Robert Lathlamuana, Chris Payne, Nikhil Poojari and Robin Gurung came into the team.
The first clear chance of the match fell to Rowllin Borges, who arrived late to latch onto a Chris Payne cross but hacked the ball wide after an acrobatic effort. Ivan Bukenya proved to be a valuable asset in defence for the away side in the early exchanges, with intelligent tackles on Chekiyot Vineeth and Udanta Singh.
Re-LIVE: Bengaluru FC 1-3 East Bengal
Anselme then audaciously tried to chip Bhattacharya from some 40 yards away from goal, but that sailed far and wide. The deadlock was broken in the 23rd minute when Morgan's side reversed a quick counter by The Southern Eagles down the left to release Anselme. The Haitian shimmied past Juan Juanan before unleashing a 23-yard curler past Sandesh Jhingan and a stranded Arindam Bhattacharya right into the far corner of the Bengaluru goal.
As The Red and Golds sat back to allow the Blues onto them, Vineeth latched onto a long diagonal ball into the box, but his effort was too tame to trouble Rehenesh, who collected with ease.
East Bengal should've doubled their lead in the 38th minute when Anselme sent in a brilliant through ball for Payne who found himself one-on-one with Bhattacharya. However, the Australian took his shot too early allowing Bhattacharya to parry it away. Robin Singh harried after the loose ball and looked set to knock it in only to see Juanan come up with a crucial sliding tackle.
Another chance went begging for the league leaders in the 43rd minute when Robin Singh saw his shot from close range charged down by a horde of defenders, after good work by Poojary.
The second half started brightly for the defending I-League champions, who saw a shot from skipper Sunil Chhetri head just wide of the mark after good work by Udanta Singh. Then, there was pandemonium.
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The second half substitute Daniel Lalhlimpuia missed a sitter from less than six yards. Cameron Watson did well to send a cross from the right wing which was headed across goal by Chhetri. East Bengal failed to clear it away and Daniel had the simple task of turning it in from close range but he inexplicably managed to send it over under pressure.
That miss would be made to pay, with Robin Singh doubling the lead for the Lal Holud just moments later. A neat cross from the left by Lathlamuana saw the former Bengaluru FC striker head a powerful effort home past Bhattacharya and the covering Jhingan.
Bengaluru FC would then be squeezed into the Iron Maiden in the 59th minute with Singh completing his brace. Rowllin Borges whipped in a brilliant cross that found Chris Payne at the far post. The Australian, alert to the run of Singh, chested a brilliant pass into the latter's path who converted from close range with Bengaluru FC defenders all over the place.
Sunil Chhetri then got himself booked after lashing out at Rafique, who didn't allow him to take a quick free-kick, before getting into an altercation with the referee wherein he shoved the official. All he got for his efforts, and luckily for Roca's beleaguered side, was a yellow card.
Bengaluru FC missed another chance when Udanta broke forward with pace down the right. His cut back should have been converted by Daniel who missed his kick altogether. The ball bounced away to Chhetri whose shot was then blocked.
The Blues managed to get a goal back in the 85th minute when intelligent interplay on the edge of the box between Chhetri and Udanta saw the Indian skipper send Udanta clear into the box. The winger flashed a low cross across which was bundled in by Vineeth at the far post.
Despite sustained Bengaluru pressure, which saw Cameron Watson, Udanta and Chhetri try their luck, Rehenesh's goal was not fluttered further.
The end of the game saw huge tempers flare with players from both camps embroiled in a nasty brawl on the touchline.
However, nothing could cap the immense pleasure Trevor Morgan was enjoying on the sidelines after doing the double over Albert Roca and returning to the I-League summit.
The Red and Golds now face Shillong Lajong in Shillong with renewed spirit, while the Blues must look for some way to end their rotten streak of seven consecutive winless games when they come up against Minerva Punjab.