Bottom-placed Delhi Dynamos won their first home game of the 2017-18 Indian Super League (ISL) as they defeated Bengaluru FC by a two-goal margin at the JL Nehru Stadium in the national capital.
Lallianzuala Chhangte's strike in the 72nd minute coupled with a penalty won and converted by Guyon Fernandez late into injury time helped Delhi win only their second game of the season, after six consecutive losses and a draw.
Miguel Angel Portugal made three changes to the side that lost to Kerala Blasters as skipper Kalu Uche was reinstated into the side with David Ngaihte making way for him. Edu Moya was shifted back to central defence as midfielder Vinit Rai was deemed fit to start once again with defender Rowlison Rodrigues missing out. Goalkeeper Xabier Irureta was unable to recover from injury as Arnab Das Sharma started between the sticks.
Albert Roca also made three changes from the win against ATK with John Johnson, Lenny Rodrigues and Braulio Nobrega coming into the starting eleven as Udanta Singh, Juanan and Erik Paartalu were relegated to the bench.
After a scrappy start to the game, it was the home side who could have gone ahead within the opening 10 minutes after Dynamos’ high-press forced the Bengaluru defence to lose the ball at the back. The loose ball fell to Uche who had the entire goal at his mercy as well as options in the form of Chhangte and Lumu but he blasted his effort well over the bar.
The home side maintained the early pressure as Lallianzuala Chhangte and Jeroen Lumu threatened but could have conceded a goal against the run of play in the 17th minute when Dimas Delgado found Hamranjot Khabra with a beautifully threaded pass. The right-back had only Arnab to beat in the Delhi goal but his weak effort was directed straight at the goalkeeper as the chance went begging.
Miguel Angel Portugal’s men almost converted their early dominance into a goal in the 23rd minute when Paulinho Dias slipped in Chhangte behind the visitors’ defence but his low shot aimed towards the near post was well saved by Gurpreet Singh.
Minutes later, Chhangte was set up once again in a similar manner with Lumu’s brilliant through ball but his hurried effort crept just wide of the post to let Bengaluru off the hook.
The southern side were pegged back throughout the entire first period with their forward line hardly getting touches on the ball as Delhi’s pressing game shone on the night.
However, the home side failed to make the most of their numerous opportunities as the score remained goalless at the half-time whistle.
It was the Dynamos who started the brighter of the two in the second period too as they saw more of the ball but it was the visitors to whom the first clear-cut chance fell.
After getting robbed of possession, defender Edu Moya brought down his man right at the edge of the box to concede a free-kick in a dangerous position. Skipper Chhetri stepped up to take the set-piece but his low effort was well saved by Arnab.
A quick break away saw Chhetri find Braulio in acres of space with a lovely lobbed ball but the Bengaluru number nine’s volleyed effort was misdirected.
The home side wasted another gilt-edged chance in the 69th minute after another quick counter which set Chhangte free. Chhangte set up the charging Lumu who directed his effort just wide off the post with only Gurpreet to beat.
The Dynamos would take the lead just a few minutes later after another counter-attack, this time from the right. Kotal slipped Chhangte expertly behind the defence and the winger’s well-improvised toe-poke beat Gurpreet in goal.
Roca threw on Antonio Dovale, Erik Paartalu and Alwyn George in place of Braulio, Dimas and Harmanjot as he chased the equalizer but it was still the home side who looked the more likely to score next on their devastating counter-attacks.
As Bengaluru threw all men forward in desperation, the home side were awarded a penalty in injury-time as Guyon was brought down by Subhasish Bose who was promptly shown the red card. Guyon made no mistake from the spot as he sent Gurpreet the wrong way to seal the deal.
Dynamos registered their maiden home win of the campaign and their first three points since their opening match victory against FC Pune City, seven weeks ago.