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ISL 2017-18: Bengaluru's quality comes to the fore as Kerala Blasters' season ends limply

07:04 EAT 02/03/2018
Bengaluru vs Kerala Blasters
The Men in Yellow ended their season with a disappointing result against the league leaders who showed their quality throughout the game...

Bengaluru FC's final league game, against Kerala Blasters at the Kanteerava stadium, was one of the most highly-anticipated clashes in the Indian Super League (ISL) owing to the burgeoning rivalry between fan groups of the two teams. 

And the setting on Thursday night did justice to all the hype. With a huge contingent of away fans making it to the stadium, the Kanteerava was sold out. The stadium was awash in blue and yellow and there were banners galore despite the fact that this game was a dead-rubber when it came to playoff qualification scenarios.

Bengaluru FC were already assured of the top spot while Blasters were out of the running for a play-off spot. 

The Sachin Tendulkar co-owned outfit were playing largely for pride but went down yet again to the Blues, very similar to the way they were beaten at home in Kochi on the last New Year's eve which ended with Rene Meulensteen getting sacked. 

Yes, Bengaluru were kept out until late on by Kerala Blasters and it was two late goals that did them in just like in the reverse fixture at Kochi. But the fact remains they were completely outclassed in the ninety minutes. 

Bengaluru kept creating chances galore throughout the game and should have gone ahead much before, but for their profligacy in front of goal. Miku, Chhetri and Nishu Kumar were all guilty of missing glorious chances. 

While Sandesh Jhingan and Wes Brown were dominant in the air, they struggled to keep up with the slick passing displayed by Bengaluru FC. Chhetri and Dimas Delgado were often able to pick their passes with ease through the defence. 

Bengaluru accumulated a total of 16 shots as opposed to just six from Kerala Blasters. But what stands out is the fact that none of those shots from Kerala Blasters were on target. 

It pretty much summed up Kerala Blasters' attack last night. And when one has to consider the fact that Albert Roca's side had two makeshift centre-backs in Erik Paartalu and Subashish Bose who went largely untested. 

Throughout the season, Blasters' attack has been woeful. They have lacked a clear sense of direction and had no style of approach. It was glaringly evident again in Bengaluru while the Blues attacked with purpose and fluidity. 

Despite their finishing woes early on, Miku put that right with a clinical finish from inside the box before Udanta Singh lashed home a left-footer after cutting in in injury time. 

CK Vineeth was once again guilty of 'completely' missing a superb cutback from Jackichand Singh and faded as the game went on. Apart from some industry from Baldvinsson, there weren't many high points for the Men in Yellow in attack. 

The season has ended with a limp for David James' outfit but they have the Super Cup to look forward to. But the immediate concern should be the fact a Mumbai City win on Saturday could see them forced to play a qualifier to take part in the Super Cup. 

Bengaluru FC, on the other hand, have now won an unprecedented 13th game in the league stage with a winning percentage of 72.2% - an unprecedented feat in Indian top-tier football. Ominous signs for the semifinals?