NorthEast United had more possession, 54 per cent in the first half and 62 per cent after the break. They attempted more shots than Bengaluru FC. The number of passes and accurate passes was more than what their opposition could manage by over a 100!
They did this at the Kanteerava Stadium - Bengaluru FC’s home stadium. This only goes to demonstrate the manner in which they controlled the proceedings on Friday night.
What was missing from their game was the lack of quality in the final third. Halicharan Narzary got into good positions but his crosses were far from being accurate. The same was the case with Seiminlen Doungel, who was the most threatening player for the Bengaluru defence. Danilo Cezario does all the good work but messes up when it comes to applying the finishing touch.
Rowllin Borges and Martin Diaz absolutely bossed the midfield alongside Marcinho. Part of the reason was also the absence of Dimas Delgado, the former Numancia midfielder who is known to set the tempo of the game for the Blues. Not only does he recycle possession, the 34-year-old is also known to make important tackles in order to break up play.
It wasn’t Bengaluru FC’s best performance under Albert Roca and the Spaniard would hope that Delgado returns to full fitness before they take on ATK next weekend in Kolkata.
For all the good work done by NorthEast to keep the ball, they conceded two goals – both down to individual errors. Edu Garcia’s free-kick saw Juanan rise highest to head home with Sambinha, who was assigned the task to keep an eye on the former Fortuna Dusseldorf, not able to keep him in check.
It wouldn’t be unfair to state the second goal was handed on a platter. Harmanjot Khabra’s cross wasn’t controlled well by Sambinha and thereafter it fell for Nirmal Chettri, who too like his team-mate, couldn’t clear the ball. Sunil Chhetri did the needful to put his side into the lead.
The best players for Bengaluru FC were the central defensive duo of John Johnson and Juanan. It was a vintage Johnson performance where he won almost every duel, tackle, intercepted well and cleared everything that came his way. It’s certainly good news for Bengaluru fans as the English defender finally put in a commendable shift at the back, something which has been missing from his game this season.
The focus will shift back to AFC Cup for the home team while Avram Grant will once again work on the attacking drills before they travel to Goa for what promises to be an enthralling game of attacking football.