Bengaluru FC nicked a late win against NorthEast United FC for the second time this season, to come away 2-1 winners at the Indira Gandhi National Stadium in Guwahati on Friday. Brazilian defender Alan Costa was the hero for Bengaluru FC once again, scoring with a header to seal three points on the road and complete the double for his team.
The match had a tight first half, with both teams creating just one clear-cut chance each. Wilmar Jordan had the best chance for NorthEast United in the ninth minute. He was clean through on goal and went for a low curled finish, but Gurpreet Sandhu got down quickly to deny him after he hit his shot into the floor.
Sunil Chhetri was on the bench for Bengaluru FC, with Roy Krishna leading the line alongside Sivasakthi Narayanan. Krishna couldn’t get involved in the game for most of the first half because of NorthEast United’s stubborn defence – he only had 18 touches in the first half.
The one time he was afforded time on the ball, he played a gorgeous outside-of-the-boot pass into the path of Sivasakthi. Sivasakthi’s effort wasn’t a bad one, but Mirshad Michu was alert to the danger, made himself big, and denied the Bengaluru FC forward. The first-half ended 0-0.
Bengaluru FC were rewarded in the 50th minute. Parag Srivas set up Sivasakthi on the left flank after driving forward, and he expertly poked the ball over Mirshad and into the top corner from the edge of the penalty box to give Bengaluru a 1-0 lead.
NorthEast were struggling to get a foothold in the second-half, but had a decent stretch from the 62nd minute to the 65th minute, which was enough for them to open their account for the evening. They were awarded a free-kick just outside the box, and Romain Philippoteaux beat Sandhu in the 66th minute. The Frenchman deceived the Bengaluru FC wall and keeper by going for a low shot across the goal.
Chhetri, who came on as a substitute, came very close to scoring from a diving header in the 82nd minute after Udanta Singh, another substitute, played a delightful cross from the right wing. But Mirshad made a crucial close-range save to keep NorthEast in the game.
Udanta found space on the right wing, and played a perfectly lofted pass into the path of central defender Costa, who had stepped forward, and powered his header home to give Bengaluru FC all three points against NorthEast for the second time this season.
NorthEast United remain in last place and will host FC Goa in Guwahati on January 15, while Bengaluru FC will host Odisha FC on January 14.