At this stage last season, with two matches left before the playoffs, Bengaluru had ended their five-match winning run with a 1-1 draw against Pune City at home. They were top of the table and won the last two games with ease.
Bengaluru have not been the same force to be reckoned with this season, especially after the international break. They have only registered one win in the five matches played. The Blues have also lost three games, including two back-to-back defeats against bottom-placed Chennaiyin and eighth-placed Delhi Dynamos (who were ninth on the table before the game against the Blues).
Miku's long-awaited return to the first team after a prolonged injury layoff has not gone according to plan. He has not made the desired impact and will take time to settle back into the lineup and the sooner he manages to do that, the better for Bengaluru, with the playoffs in sight.
Bengaluru were slow to get into the game and Delhi Dynamos took full advantage, with Ulises Davila giving Albert Serran and Juanan a hard time in the centre of defence. The Mexican forward struck the first blow nine minutes into the match. Gurpreet Singh's bad day at work kicked off with him making a hash of a cross from the wings, allowing Davila to dispatch the loose ball into the net.
The game opened up easily and it was a perfect indication of how both teams wanted to approach it. On one end was a team who had already qualified for the playoffs and at the other end was a team who had no hopes of qualification.
Boithang Haokip scored the equaliser for Bengaluru and this time it was Francisco Dorronsoro's turn to parry the ball way towards the opposition's forward for him to easily find the net.
Sunil Chhetri, who has looked a shadow of his former self since returning from AFC Asian Cup duty, managed to poke the ball into the net after Xisco Hernandez took advantage of Delhi's over-enthusiastic pressing and released a through ball for the forward. Delhi Dynamos were the better team after the break but Chhetri's goal, all of a sudden, looked to have put Bengaluru in the driving seat.
However, a combination of Daniel Lalhlimpuia's hunger to play well against his former team and downright bad goalkeeping allowed Delhi Dynamos to zoom back into the game within a three-minute window.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had a game to forget. His defence did not fare any better. Narayan Das found Lalhlimpuia in the centre of the box with a cross from the left. The striker had the entire net in front of him with Gurpreet in the centre and he sent his shot straight at the goalkeeper. The universe had decided that it was going to be Daniel's night as the India No.1, in an effort to block the shot, deflected it into the net.
Bengaluru's defence had called it a night and returned home but Daniel had decided to pull an all-nighter, just to prove to his former team that he can be the last man standing. He pounced on a headed clearance by Juanan from a cross into the box and took aim at the goal. Remember the universe's sign? The attempted shot took a deflection of Rahul Bheke and beat Gurpreet Singh at his near post, making it three goals he would have saved on any other day.
Instead, it was a brace for Daniel Lalhlimpuia and a wonderful win for Delhi Dynamos. It was, without doubt, a poor display from Bengaluru's defenders who looked so sluggish against Delhi's attackers who were dominant throughout.
This might not be the right kind of momentum Bengaluru would want to gather as the play-offs inch ever so close.