In what was a fantastic result for Indian Super League (ISL) side Bengaluru FC, the Federation Cup champions triumphed 3-0 over DPR Korea’s 4.25 SC in the first leg of the AFC Cup knockout rounds. Sunil Chhetri opened the scoring from the penalty spot before Udanta Singh and Lenny Rodrigues added their name to the scoresheet.
Albert Roca opted for a 4-3-3 formation with Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh and Antonio Dovale as the attacking trident. The DPR Korean champions lined-up in a 4-5-1 system with skipper An Il Bom leading the line.
The first opening was for the away side when right back Pak Myong Song got the better of Nishu Kumar, who fumbled and allowed the former a free way into the box. However, instead of aiming to take a shot on goal, he looked for a teammate and the pass was intercepted in time by Harmanjot Khabra.
Bengaluru got an unlikely chance in the 20th minute when Dimas Delgado did well to go for a 50-50 ball and intercept. He tried to get on the end of it as the ball made its way into the box however, goalkeeper Ri Kang made his way out to collect.
Lenny Rodrigues committed a needless foul and from the resulting free-kick, An Song Il’s header went over the bar with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu having committed to coming off his line to collect.
The home side was guilty of committing too many fouls and from one such set-piece taken by Ri Hyong Jin, Gurpreet parried the ball away for a corner on a rainy day.
Referee Turki Alkhudhayr pointed to the spot when Udanta was brought down by Kang inside the box after he looked to get on the end of a headed pass by Dovale. Chhetri stepped up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way with his Panenka finish to put Bengaluru 1-0 ahead.
The best chance of the half came Chhetri’s way. He beat his marker An Song Il and with the goalkeeper having already committed to coming off his line, the Bengaluru skipper tried to lob his effort over the custodian but his effort went inches wide.
After the break, Kim Jong Chol crossed from the right which missed everyone inside the box, including Gurpreet. The very next minute saw substitute Kim Yu Song beat three defenders and take a shot on goal which was just about kept out by Gurpreet.
In the 51st minute, Udanta Singh was found in acres of space down the right. His left footed finish into the far corner left the goalkeeper for dead as Bengaluru doubled their lead.
Kim Yu Song had another chance when his left footed effort saw the former Stabaek custodian come up with yet another save.
Skipper An Il Bom went close around the hour mark with Gurpreet once again coming to the rescue.
Against the run of play, Lenny had an effort from range which was tipped over the bar by Kang in the 69th minute.
As the rain Gods kept smiling, it was difficult for players to play ‘pass-and-move’ brand of football. However, Chhetri ran away from his marker on the left and crossed for Lenny. The former Churchill Brothers midfielder trapped the ball and his right footed shot went into the far corner as Bengaluru lead 3-0.
The third goal proved to be the final nail in the first leg coffin as the DPR Korea champions struggled to get any sort of rhythm going in the final minutes of the match. Bengaluru FC saw out the final few minutes to kick off their season on a winning note.