Bengaluru FC marked the 100th Indian Super League (ISL) game of the season by scoring a 2-1 win to hand Mumbai City FC their first loss of the season, on Wednesday at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, to end the visitors’ 18-game unbeaten streak. In ending that prolific streak, the best ever in ISL history, the Blues also made a big move towards sealing a playoff spot with their seventh win in a row with Sunil Chhetri leading from the front.
Chhetri made his first start of the new year for Bengaluru FC as Roy Krishna served his suspension. The 38-year-old asked questions of the Islanders’ backline. A little over five minutes after attempting to dink one over the keeper, Chhetri tried his luck from the edge of the box after Vignesh D’s clearance deflected into his path. Moments later, Chhetri had another crack at goal after getting the better of Ahmed Jahouh. Lachenpa was quick to go down and put his body behind the low shot.
But in a first half where neither team looked to be too adventurous, it was Mumbai City FC who were presented with the best opportunity to take the lead. Bengaluru FC’s defenders were caught in a tangle in the middle of the pitch when a long ball set Bipin Singh on a free run at goal down the left side. However, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu made himself big at the near post and blocked the winger’s effort which was straight at him.
Chhetri’s persistence paid off minutes before the hour mark as the League Shield winners looked a shadow of themselves in the second half. Hernandez whipped a corner towards the far post, where the Islanders had left Chhetri unmarked – the veteran charged in to head his team into the lead.
A glimpse of just how much the Blues had rattled the Islanders was visible when centre-back Aleksandar Jovanovic, in to replace the suspended Parag Shrivas, burst past a flat-footed defence into the box to create the second goal. He squared the ball into the path of Hernandez, who drove it in first time to put his team 2-0 up in the 70th minute.
This did seem to shake the league leaders up, as they clawed back in the 77th minute when a Rowllin Borges corner was headed back across goal for Mourtada Fall to tap in. But this drive came too little too late from the Islanders, whose domineering run came to a halt at the hands of a resurgent Bengaluru FC.
The Blues are now sitting in fourth, four points clear of sixth place. Their final league game of the season will be against FC Goa on February 23. Mumbai City FC will conclude their league season against East Bengal FC on February 19.