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ISL 2017: Bengaluru FC played into Gregory’s plan

1:07 AM GMT 18/12/2017
Bengaluru FC Chennaiyin FC ISL 2017/18
The Federation Cup champions didn’t really threaten Karanjit Singh’s goal with the goalkeeper hardly being troubled in the game…

Bengaluru FC started their Indian Super League (ISL) sojourn with a couple of wins in which they were completely dominant. Thereafter, they went down to FC Goa after playing more than 50 minutes or so with 10-men. T.P.Rehenesh had a role in gifting Bengaluru the winner in Guwahati and the same was the case in Pune when Baljit Sahni let down his team by picking a red card.

The signs were there and it was exposed by John Gregory’s Chennaiyin FC.

The Super Machans are a physically strong outfit, something which Albert Roca acknowledged yet they opted to play Lenny Rodrigues in the middle of the park and the midfielder hardly made any attacking or defensive contribution to the team. He would stand at least two yards away when the ball was at the feet of Raphael Augusto and didn’t provide any cover for Harmanjot Khabra when up against Jude Nworuh. Dimas Delgado was left alone to deal with the likes of Bikramjit Singh and Dhanpal Ganesh in a lopsided battle which meant that even though they had possession of the ball, they were unable to penetrate.

Also Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, returning after a two game suspension, should have done better in between the sticks for the first goal.

Except for Edu Garcia’s long range effort which came after hitting the post, the home side were outthought in every department and were second best, something which isn’t an everyday occurrence.

Credit to Roca for realizing his mistake as he immediately threw Udanta Singh into the mix at the start of the second half and within 17 seconds, they should have had an equalizer.

Add to this, a 20-year-old Nishu Kumar was beaten for pace by a 32-year-old Francis Fernandes. Agreed that the young left-back hasn’t played much lately but to outpaced by a winger who isn’t in his peak years is certainly unacceptable.

Bengaluru had scored all their goals this season from inside the box. Chennaiyin FC ensured that there was no service provided to Miku, the star striker who has impressed with his clinical finishing, as he was left to do too much on his own.

They did manage to score the equalizer through Sunil Chhetri with Antonio Dovale providing the assist. This was probably the only time when Chhetri was left unmarked inside the box.

It must be noted that FC Pune City almost won all their aerial duels against Bengaluru FC in the previous game.

Dhanpal Ganesh did well to get away from his marker, namely Braulio Nobrega, and head home to win three points for the visitors. With no John Johnson, who was substituted, or Juanan or Erik Paartalu, the Blues were always susceptible to conceding from a set-piece.

Jeje Lalpekhlua made an impact with a goal and by winning a crucial free-kick at the end with Rahul Bheke needlessly bringing him down near the half way line. The Mizoram striker showed why he is so highly rated as he makes the difference in important phases.

The two-time I-League champions literally didn’t have much answer to the tactics deployed by John Gregory as they struggled to test Karanjit Singh. The only time he was called into action was through a Garcia shot in the first half, Chhetri’s tame effort which went straight into his hands and the late header which was any which ways not going in.

Bengaluru would next face Jamshedpur FC on Thursday, in what will be their third game in a week. While the fixture list is piling, the onus is on Roca’s team to bring their A-form and return to winning ways by putting in a dominant performance.