Hyderabad struggled to break down an organized Bengaluru defence for 86 minutes in their 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) match on Thursday.
Bengaluru were sure and looked relieved to set to end their seven-game winless run. But then Aridane Santana scored in 86th minute. And then came Fran Sandaza's strike in the 90th minute. And that ensured that the Blues extended their winless run to eight games.
The Blues look assured in their half for the majority of the game. The game had a Bengaluru win written all over it but they failed to fight till the final whistle and paid the price.
Bengaluru suffered an early blow when Juanan picked up a hamstring injury early on in the game and had to be replaced by Parag Srivas. But the altered backline still did a very good job of keeping a talented Hyderabad attack in check.
Rahul Bheke slotted in at centre-back and the substitute Parag Srivas played as the full-back but the Hyderabad forwards missed whatever chances they created.
A Cleiton Silva free-kick was helped into the net by Sunil Chhetri for Bengaluru's opening goal. Chhetri has had a disappointing season so far in the ISL but made an impact early on and became the leading Indian goalscorer with five goals in 13 matches. Halicharan Narzary, who has four goals to his name (none of them penalties), failed to make a similar impact in the final third at the other end.
Final third action soon dried up but Hyderabad had their best chance of the half on the stroke of half-time from a quick counter-attack. Liston Colaco, who was otherwise ineffective, did well to release Akash Mishra into space. The full-back, another player who couldn't thrive down the flanks like he usually does, had a rare chance to cross freely into the box. He delivered a good cross into the centre where Narzary missed a sitter.
Bengaluru's hope of claiming a win was strengthened when the impressive Kerala-born attacker Leon Augustine scored after the hour-mark. Hitesh Sharma was punished for his misplaced pass as Leon ran down on goal and coolly slotted the ball into the net with the outside of his right boot to give Bengaluru a two-goal cushion.
That was supposed to be the climax moment for Bengaluru. There wasn't supposed to be a late comeback, going by how well Bengaluru had managed to keep the incessant Hyderabad attacks at bay. But then Marquez change in tactics and the players' spirit stole the show in the final minutes of the game.
Substitute Rohit Danu, who came on as part of the tactical shuffle, impressed on the right flank. His delicious cross into the box was guided into the net by Aridane Santana for the first goal.
The second goal also came from the right flank. The Blues defence, which was tightly-knit in the first half, failed to clear the ball into the box and allowed Roland Aldberg's effort from the edge of the box to reach Fran Sandaza. The substitute found the net from close-range to complete the comeback and once again prove the spirit and talent that this season's Hyderabad has.
The equaliser looked offside but the Bengaluru defence had played Sandaza onside, extending their winless run.