A formidable Bengaluru side got the better of a young Shillong Lajong squad in a 0-2 result which saw skipper Sunil Chhetri (26') and Harmanjot Khabra (49') register the two goals.
The hosts Shillong Lajong opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation with Aser Dipanda operating as the lone striker upfront. Thangboi Singto named an unchanged starting XI while Alberto Roca made four changes to the team that dented Aizawl FC's title ambitions last week.
The tie kick started with the home side putting early pressure on The Blues. First, Bipin Singh pulled back the ball for Aser Dipanda from the left wing but Bengaluru’s John Johnson did well to cut the danger. Later, Samuela got a chance but fumbled inside the box which saw the opposition’s defense clear away the proceedings.
As the match proceeded, insipid performance by both the teams was witnessed as none of them seemed to have a clear game plan to break down the opposition. Lack of organized passing saw both the teams losing the ball often as possession shifted from one team to another, in a matter of seconds.
In the 26th minute, the deadlock was broken. Skipper Sunil Chhetri, who was relatively anonymous in the first quarter, created a bit of space for himself in the opposition’s box and coolly slotted home for the first goal of the game. The hosts’ defense was gone for a toss as Thangboi Singto was seen frustrated on the sidelines.
Further, the Reds were outplayed in the middle of the park as Roca’s men clearly controlled the tempo of the game. The defending champions’ disciplined formation was pretty effecient and the home side failed in breaking it down.
The two teams entered the tunnel at the half-time whistle on a 0-1 score-line in the favour of the visitors.
The second half started on an exciting note as the hosts came really close to registering the equalizer. Isaac Vanmalsawma laid a beautiful ball into the box as Chinglensana Singh was present to make contact with the delivery. The Manipuri youngster, however, was unable to keep his header low which saw the ball sway over the post.
Just couple of minutes later, it was the visitors who succeeded in netting the second goal of the evening. The misery of the home team continued as Nishu Kumar’s delivery in the box was headed down perfectly by Harmanjot Khabra. Nim Dorjee tried to clear but could only find the back of the net with his clearance.
Since conceding the second goal, Singto’s youngsters looked tired and out of sorts. However during the final 15 minutes of the tie, the hosts had a bright chance on the goal. Fabio Pena crossed the ball the right flank to find Samuela who tried to head it down the path of Dipanda. The latter did well to beat the offside trap but, in doing so, he lost the chance to get a touch on the ball.
Eventually, the young Lajong side fell prey to the South India outfit as the match ended on a 0-2 score-line. The result meant Bengaluru FC now replace Singto and company on the fourth spot as the Meghalaya side slips to the fifth position.