Last season, Bengaluru FC made their entry into the Indian Super League (ISL) and quickly became the team to beat. They were dominant in most of their fixtures but also knew how to churn out wins consistently.
Their ability to always find a winner was what helped them top of the table after 18 matches and they did it again against a high-flying FC Goa away from home on Wednesday.
Attack + Defence = Football
Make no mistake, Carles Cuadrat wants his team to play a possession-based offensive game but against the Gaurs, they were willing to take a back seat and focus on defence. Lobera demands high-paced football from his side and the Blues were not willing to let Goa unleash their flair upon Gurpreet's goal.
Both goals scored by Bengaluru were well-taken. Rahul Bheke had an outstanding game in defence and produced a gorgeous backheel flick to break the deadlock. With the scores at 1-1, Udanta's perfect cross was headed into the net by Sunil Chhetri to make it 2-1 for Bengaluru. Goa's only goal was clearly offside with Jackichand Singh interfering with the play from an offside position as Brandon's deflected shot hit the net.
Goa's channels shut down
Full credit to Gurpreet Singh for a focused display in between the sticks after a nightmarish blunder for India against Jordan during the international break. The Bengaluru custodian showed why he is still India's No.1 with an excellent outing against a side that had scored 12 goals from their three home games this season.
Hugo Boumous could have changed the script of the match had he converted from handshaking distance ten minutes into the game. Gurpreet denied the Moroccan from point-blank range and it was a sign of things to come for the Gaurs.
A striker-less game where defenders made the difference
Both sides had key players rendered hors de combat. The hosts dearly missed Edu Bedia in midfield as Hugo Boumous and Ahmed Jahouh failed to boss their counterparts and ran out of ideas pretty quickly as the game wore on.
Credit to Bengaluru's defence for directing 'The Invisible Man' with Ferran Corominas in the lead. Supply to the striker was cut-off and in the absence of Bedia, the Spaniard often dropped very deep to pick up the ball.
Chencho Gyeltshen earned his first start and played up top as Miku missed out due to an injury but the Bhutanese failed to produce a display that could have handed Cuadrat a selection headache.
Erik Paartalu's absence in midfield was felt when Dimas Delgado was sent off for a high-footed tackle on Boumous in the second half. With the midfield controller off the field, the game stretched and allowed Goa to make a final push towards Bengaluru's goal.
Carles Cuadrat had dismissed the tag of 'title favourites' earlier this season but he is wrong. After just six matches, Bengaluru FC are still the team to beat.