ISL 2017-18: Gurpreet shines as Bengaluru FC sail past Jamshedpur FC
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The Bengaluru custodian pulled off some vital saves to help his team cling on to three points in Jamshedpur.....

Bengaluru FC ran out 2-0 victors over Jamshedpur FC in an Indian Super League (ISL) clash at the JRD Tata Sports Complex on Sunday. Venezuelan striker Miku struck a 23rd minute penalty to hand the visitors the lead before skipper Sunil Chhetri doubled it in the 34th minute.

Albert Roca fielded an unchanged starting XI from the one which held FC Pune City to 1-1 draw nine days back at the Kanteerava Stadium. Miku was the lone striker upfront with Toni Dovale, Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh operating just behind the Venezuelan.

Jamshedpur FC gaffer Steve Coppell, on the other hand, made just one change in the lineup. Club’s highest goal scorer Izu Azuka was brought back in the starting XI to replace Trindade Goncalves. The British coach who opted for a 4-4-1-1 formation against Chennaiyin, opted for a 4-4-2 on Sunday with Azuka and Sumeet Passi paired upfront.

It was an end-to-end affair right from the word go as both teams looked hungry for goals. Bengaluru could have taken a formidable 2-0 lead within the first 12 minutes of the match itself. In the ninth minute, Toni Dovale forwarded a through ball inside the box for Miku who squared it for Sunil Chhetri. Unfortunately, the Bengaluru skipper failed to connect with the ball as it went out.

The second chance came three minutes later when Udanta sent a cross inside the six-yard box from the right side but Miku failed to keep his header on target. The striker had absolutely no one in front of him but still misdirected his header over the crossbar.

The visitors finally broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute from Miku’s penalty. In the 21st minute, Subrata Paul poor goal kick was easily intercepted by Lenny Rodrigues in the midfield, who in turn sent a long ball for the Venezuelan striker. Miku entered the box and went past Subrata but before he could take a shot at goal, the Jamshedpur custodian brought him down. Bengaluru’s top goal scorer comfortably found the back of the net from spot-kick.

Roca’s men could have doubled the lead in the 32nd minute when Miku received a through ball inside the box. The striker eyed Udanta’s run from the right side and squared the ball for the winger. Tiri completely misread the pass and failed to intercept the ball. Unfortunately for the visitors, Udanta took a heavy touch and the ball went to Andre Bikey.

In the 34th minute, Sunil Chhetri scored the second goal of the night for Bengaluru FC from Dimas Delgado’s corner. The midfielder floated the perfect corner inside the box and the Bengaluru FC skipper converted with an inch-perfect header.

It was the visitors who were completely dominant in the opening 45 minutes. The trio of Lenny, Delgado and Dovale at the centre of the pitch did a fine job in creating numerous goal-scoring opportunities for their attackers.

Coppell brought in Anas Edathodika in place of Sumeet Passi in the beginning of the second half as the formation changed from 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1 with Izu Azuka as the lone striker. Wellington Priori moved up to the number 10 role and Bikey partnered Memo in the central midfield.

The home side came close to score twice in the 47th minute only to be denied by a valiant Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Bikey launched a shot at goal from the top box which was saved by the India number one. Jerry went for the goal from the rebound but once again Sandhu was on hand to deny him.

After two minutes, Azuka attempted a scissor kick from Jerry’s cross inside the box but the ball went above the crossbar.

In an unfortunate turn of events for Jamshedpur, Anas Edathodika had to leave with a knee injury in the 56th minute. He was replaced by Mehtab Hossain who took his position at the centre of the pitch, in the process sending Bikey back to the defence. Anas, who was already suffering from a knee injury, remained on the pitch for just 11 minutes.

Albert Roca made two changes as he sought to see the game out. Erik Paartalu replaced Toni Dovale and Boithang Haokip replaced Udanta on the right flank. Paartalu was fielded in order to keep a check on the constant threats which were imposed by Jamshedpur down the middle.

Coppell’s final throw of the dice was introducing Kervens Belfort in place of Andre Bikey. The Haitian partnered Azuka upfront but failed to create any positive impact.

Bengaluru widened their gap at the top of the table after Sunday’s win. They now have an eight points lead over FC Pune City and Chennaiyin FC. Jamshedpur’s defeat at home further spiced up the race for the playoff spot. The Tata Steel-owned side are now just one point above fifth-placed Kerala Blasters.

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