In a matter of four minutes, Ashique Kuruniyan scored goals at either end of the pitch for Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC to share the spoils in a 1-1 draw in a 2021-22 Indian Super League (ISL) third-round game at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on Sunday.
Kuruniyan (84’ and 88’ OG) first scored for the Blues, courtesy an error from goalkeeper Albino Gomes, and then for the opposition.
Marco Pezzauioli, on the back of the 3-1 defeat at the hands of Odisha, brought in more creativity with Iman Basafa slotting into midfield. Cleiton Silva returned to lead the line. Blasters too had a couple of changes. Puitea featured alongside Jeakson Singh in a double-pivot role as Alvaro Vazquez replaced Jorge Pereyra Diaz.
Bengaluru remained on top with superior ball possession early on but Blasters had Jeakson Singh almost create a favourable chance under two minutes. Kuruniyan’s pace kept former teammate Harmanjot Singh Khabra on check with Basafa looking settled in dictating play from the centre of the pitch.
Sahal Abdul Samad showcased some slick moves to beat Roshan Singh and cross inside the box. But, Kuruniyan was equally adept at defensive duties, clearing off the danger, in the 23rd minute.
It was a frantic ten minutes after the change of ends. Cleiton and Udanta combined well to keep Blasters anxious. First the Brazilian shot wide and then lobbed the ball high over the bar. Albino Gomes in fairness, had it covered.
Roles were reversed as Cleiton then found Udanta who blazed the ball wide.
Sunil Chhetri was substituted at the hour mark.
The last ten minutes defined the script of the game that was marked by errors from both sides. Kurniyan found the ball on the edge of the box. After toying with Khabra, he shot on the angle and a spill from Gomes saw the ball go into the net.
Moments later, it was anti-climax. A cross from the left saw Leskovic pip goalwards but Kuruniyan, instead of clearing, shot right into his own net.
Bengaluru now have 4 points from 3 games but Blasters still remain winless.