Two goals in the dying minutes were what decided the southern derby as Bengaluru FC hosted Kerala Blasters FC in an Indian Super League (ISL) clash at the Sree Kanteerava stadium on Thursday. Venezulean striker Miku struck in the first minute of injury-time to break Kerala hearts before Udanta Singh added a second two minutes later.
Albert Roca made three changes to the XI that started in the win against Jamshedpur FC as Udanta Singh made way for Boithang Haokip who took his place on the right-flank. There were two changes in defence with Nishu Kumar and Erik Paartalu coming in for Juanan Antonio and John Johnson while up front, Miku continued with the striker duties.
David James, on the other hand, made two changes to the XI which drew against Chennaiyin FC as star man Dimitar Berbatov missed out due to an injury with young Deependra Negi coming in for him. Arata Izumi for Courage Pekuson was the second change made by the Englishman while Gudjon Baldvinsson led the line in attack.
Both sides started equally brightly with Jackichand Singh in particular looking threatening on the left-flank for the Blasters. Sunil Chhetri came agonizingly close to scoring in the 11th minute with a blistering effort after cutting on to his right foot.
It was Jackichand who created the first real opportunity of the match with another brilliant run down the left-flank before releasing a dangerous cut-back in the box. Former Bengaluru man CK Vineeth appeared ready to pull the trigger in but he was put off by Balvisson’s late run as the golden chance went begging.
The hosts then came mighty close to taking the lead in the 23rd minute through an unexpected source. Skipper Sunil Chhetri’s shot from the edge of the box was blocked by the Kerala defence but the rebound felt kindly for left wing-back Nishu Kumar who found himself in acres of space. The youngster’s wild left-footed shot though, went miles off target.
The visitors were then dealt a huge blow as the electric Jackichand had to be taken off with an injury as Prasanth Karuthadathkuni took his place. The game descended into a battle of midfield for the next few minutes before Chhetri had another great chance. Miku started a quick counter-attacking move from Bengaluru’s own half before finding Dimas Delgado who in turn released the Blues’ skipper down the left flank.
Chhetri surged towards the box before cutting onto his right foot but his curled effort sailed some distance over the bar, much to his own frustration. Boithang had Bengaluru’s first effort on target with a sweet left-footed strike from outside the box but it was at a comfortable height for Rachubka to collect as the first-half ended with the hosts in ascendancy.
The start of the second period was much less action-packed as the first with Chhetri’s snapshot from a tight angle in the 62nd minute being the first real chance. Defences continued to thrive as clear-cut chances were hard to come for both sides. Bengaluru substitute Udanta Singh had a great chance after Dimas Delgado whipped in an excellent cross from the left but the winger couldn't find the target with his header after making a surging run in the box.
Chhetri was subsituted towards the dying minuted after a frustrating evening. Venezuelan striker Miku then wasted a gilt-edged opportunity after he found himself in a great position, shooting inches wide off the far post. However, he would no mistake in injury-time from a similar position, this time his right-footed shot sneaking in at the far-post. The hosts would add another in injury time, again from a similar position. This time it was Udanta who found the bottom corner at the far post as the Blasters wiltered towards the end.
Bengaluru finished their league engaments on top with 40 points from their 18 games while the Kerala Blasters remained in the sixth spot with 25 points.