Bengaluru FC started their 2017 Federation Cup campaign with an intense 3-2 win over Shillong Lajong at the Barabati stadium in Odisha in the opening Group B game.
The Blues started the game well and raced into a 2-0 lead by the 46th minute, thanks to goals from Udanta Singh (35') and Eugeneson Lyngdoh (46'). Though Aser Pierrick Dipanda missed a penalty, Yuta Kinowaki (72') pulled one back for Shillong but their fightback was undone by an own goal from Aiborlang Khongjee (74'). Though Samuel Lalmuanpuia (85') converted a penalty, Albert Roca's men held on for the win.
Bengaluru opted for a 3-4-3 formation with Sandesh Jhingan, John Johnson, Juanan forming the defensive line. The front three comprised of 20-year-old Manipuri Udanta Singh, Indian ace Sunil Chhetri and 19-year-old Daniel Lalhimpuia. Lajong went in with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Rocus Lamare and Yuta Kinowaki holding the midfield. Aser Pierrick Dipanda, the I-League top scorer, led their lines.
Bengaluru started the game well with their slick passing often proving too much for the Shillong Lajong midfield. Sandesh Jhingan and Daniel had good chances to open the scoring but they had to wait until the 35th minute to do so.
It was Udanta Singh who fashioned the goal after picking the ball up and unleashing a strike at goal which took a huge deflection off Nim Dorjee Tamang and fooled Vishal Kaith in goal. It looked like Bengaluru will run away with the game when they doubled their lead immediately after the restart.
Harmanjot Khabra was sent clear down the right wing and the former East Bengal midfielder's cross was met perfectly by Eugeneson Lyngdoh who had made a ghosting run into the box and his header proved too much for Kaith.
A despondent Lajong were given a huge chance to stage a comeback in the 69th minute when Sandesh Jhingan, in a moment of madness, palmed a corner away and the referee had no choice but to award the penalty. Jhingan, fortunate to be only yellow carded, heaved a sigh of relief when he saw Dipanda blast the spot-kick high and wide.
However, that relief was short-lived as Samuel Lalmuanpuia played a delicate through ball for Yuta Kinowaki to latch on to and the midfielder lifted a finish over Ralte in Bengaluru goal. The drama was not done though. Minutes afterwards, a harmless cross across the box from Sunil Chhetri was turned into his own net by Aiborlang Khongjee who could not sort his feet out in time.
Shillong Lajong were not done though. With five minutes of normal time remaining, they were awarded another penalty after a crude challenge by Salam Ranjan Singh on Samuel inside the box. This time, Samuel himself stepped up and converted it to make the scoreline 3-2.
Albert Roca's men, however, held on to complete a jittery and fortuitous win which nevertheless gives them three vital points in Group B.