After a triumphant Super Cup campaign, Bengaluru FC were punished 0-2 for their lacklustre display by New Radiant in the AFC Cup Group E game at the Rasmee Dhandhu Stadium on Wednesday.
New Radiant's focal point in the attack was Ali Ashfaq who assisted the first goal scored by Ali Fasi and then later scored his team's second to see the win through.
Albert Roca did not heavily rotate his starting lineup as he usually does for continental fixtures. With the domestic season coming to an end five days ago, the likes of Sunil Chhetri, Juanan and Udanta Singh were fielding in the lineup. Subashish Bose and Rahul Bheke also came into the backline that also made use of the tall Australian Erik Paartalu. Thongkhosie Haokip continued to lead the line for the Blues.
Oscar Bruzon opted for two changes to his side that lost to Bengaluru in their last AFC Cup match. Gotor and Guillem were replaced by Rilwan Waheed and Riham Abdul Gani.
A largely lacklustre start to the game had both sides fighting for possession in the middle third of the field. The first real opening fell to Maldivian striker Asli Ashfaq when he poked a deflected pass past both the goalkeeper and the post.
Mohamed Umair had the opportunity give his team the lead when he headed wide from inside the six-yard cross following a cross from Candela. But the wait wasn't long.
Ali Ashfaq's wonderful lob over the backline fell perfectly for Ali Fasir inside the box who curled a good finish past goalkeeper Ralte to make it 1-0 at the half-hour mark.
Sunil Chhetri tried to respond quickly by skipping past his marker and shooting at goal but Imran pulled off a decent block to keep his side ahead.
Ali Ashfaq doubled his side's lead two minutes after the restart. The veteran striker's angled finish flew past Ralte, mounting the pressure on the Blues.
The Indian Super League (ISL) finalists tried to get back into the game but failed to grab hold of the final third and allowed their opponents to see the game through quite easily. Skipper Sunil Chhetri was well-marshalled by the Maldivian club's defence and they deservedly registered an advantage at the top of Group E.
Bengaluru and New Radiant are both tied on nine points from four games but the latter has a head-to-head advantage that puts them in the driving seat for progression. Abahani Dhaka are third in the group standings with four points and Aizawl have already been eliminated.