A Sunil Chhetri brace (43' and 52') along with a free-kick from Miku (63') handed Bengaluru FC a comfortable 3-1 win over Mumbai City FC for whom substitute Leo Costa scored a consolation goal in the 76th minute.
Mumbai City FC made two changes in the starting XI as Raju Gaikwad returned from a hamstring injury which meant Davinder Singh was demoted to the bench while defensive midfielder Sehnaj Singh reclaimed his spot after serving his two-match ban. As for the visitors, Boithang Haokip, Udanta Singh, Juanan and Erik Paartalu replaced Edu Garcia, Lenny Rodrigues, Subashish Bose and Braulio respectively.
The match had an action-packed start which saw Bengaluru’s Erik Paartalu get close to the target in the fifth minute. After Udanta squared the ball for the Australian from the right-side of the 18-yard-box, the 31-year-old advanced further before letting fly but his effort was just wide of the mark.
In the 14th minute, the Eagles spiced things up from the middle of the park when Udanta’s lobbed ball flew over Mumbai’s defensive unit to find Miku unmarked. The Venezuela-born striker flicked it back for skipper Chhetri but Goian got to it before the India stalwart could.
Two minutes later, Mumbai bounced back with Achille Emana gliding past the defenders in white to attempt a shot from the edge of the box which tested Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who was equally up to his task.
Around the half-hour mark, Udanta chipped the ball from the right flank to find Haokip on the other end who made space for himself before delivering a curling effort which was kept out by custodian Amrinder.
At the other end, Gurpreet too pulled off a save in the next two minutes to avert the danger coming off Balwant’s header after the former Mohun Bagan attacker was set up by Everton’s cross from the right wing.
Balwant was lucky not to have seen a red after he elbowed Harmanjot Khabra in the face. However, the referee only chose to book him with a yellow card.
It was only in the dying moments of the first half that deadlock was broken when Chhetri went down to the ground after a soft challenge by Balwant. The referee was quick to point to the spot and Chhetri make no mistake to send the ball just under the top of the net. The skipper’s strike ensured Albert Roca’s men walked off the pitch at the break with a one-goal lead.
Just seven minutes post the commencement of the second half, the visitors doubled their lead with Chhetri adding another goal to his name. The agile Udanta beat his marker Davinder on the right to release a cross for Chhetri in the centre who bashed the ball into the mesh.
It didn’t take too long for the JSW-owned outfit to add the third goal of the night. After being brought down by Gerson at the edge of the box, Miku stepped up to take the resulting free-kick and sent in a low shot into the Mumbai goal.
The hosts bounced back with a goal in the 75th minute when Leo Costa, who replaced captain Goian in a tactical change, grabbed his first of the season. The Brazilian poked the ball past the Bengaluru custodian after a chipped delivery from Balwant.
However, the strike came in too late as the damage was already done to Guimaraes’ men who were handed their second loss in a span of four days. The victory takes Bengaluru FC to the top of the table with 21 points, one above John Gregory’s Chennaiyin FC who will play at Guwahati on Friday evening.