Bengaluru FC’s sojourn through China met its first disappointment as Eastern AA, a team from the Hong Kong Premier League, managed to outwit the reigning I-League champions by a comfortable scoreline of 2-0 at the Baining grounds in Guangzhou.
The Blues started the game with new recruit Lalthuammawia Ralte manning the goal line, whilst Rino Anto Thoi Singh, Beikhokhei Beingaichho and Siam Hanghal and CK Vineeth all made starts too. They were bereft of striking talents in Robin Singh and Sunil Chhetri as the duo were called up for national duty against Palestine in Siliguri, West Bengal. Amonsgt the foreign recruits, starts were ensured for Sean Rooney and Josh Walker.
However, most of coach Ashley Westwood’s planning was thrown out of the window when Eastern AA struck gold in the very first minute. Defender Kilima’s superb ball forward for Braziilan striker Reinaldo was met with perfection by the striker, as he headed past the debutant Ralte in Bengaluru’s goal to help the Hong Kong based side seize the intiative.
The task at hand was made even harder when after a brief fluttering of form, they conceded another headed goal, this time through Giovane, yet another Brazilian, in the 15th minute. Bengaluru for their part had a real sight at goal in the 27th minute as Walker’s free-kick was palmed away by custodian Yapp Hung Fai.
Westwood had further problems as Anto limped off with an ankle injury meaning Vishal Kumar took his place instead. No further incident was at hand as the half ended with the Hong Kong side clearly with an advantage.
The second half saw Bengaluru attack the opposition goal with renewed vigour as Westwood made key substitutions to increase his side’s tempo. Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Udanta Kumam and Karan Sawhney came on for Thoi Singh, Beikhokhei Beingaichho and Siam Hanghal respectively and Benguluru FC suddenly seemed to have a zip about their passing.
They came close as the workhorse CK Vineeth nearly opened their account but was thwarted by a defender blocking his shot on goal. Rooney then missed a sitter as Walker’s through ball found him in the clear with only the keeper to beat. Somehow though, the Australian shot straight at Hung Fai.
The next wave of attack came from the right as Udanta Kumar’s splendid ball for Walker found the Englishman, who couldn’t do justice with his effort. Then in the 73rd minute came the pivotal juncture as Fai somehow managed to keep a clean sheet after making a crucial double save from Udanta and Rooney in succession. The game petered out with Bengaluru easing up steam after Eastern’s resistance and the home side nearly managed a third as a freekick cannoned off the post for them. The match ended 2-0 in favour of the home side.
Bengaluru FC now play their third and final tour game against Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R&F FC on Thursday, 9th October, 2014.