Bengaluru FC moved to the top of the Indian Super League table on goal difference as Sunil Chhetri’s brace and a second half goal from the impressive Miku helped them to a 3-0 away win over struggling FC Pune City at the Balewadi Stadium on Monday.
With the win, last season’s runners-up are ahead of NorthEast United in the table.
Bengaluru dominated possession and the pace of Udanta Singh combined with the class of Chhetri and Miku condemned the home side to their second defeat in as many games.
It didn’t take long for Bengaluru to threaten Vishal Kaith’s goal. As early as the seventh minute, Udanta from the right had found Chhetri in space inside the box, but the latter could not connect it cleanly. Miku then had a chance in the 14th minute to put his side ahead after the ball had landed at his feet following a deflection from the Pune defensive wall. His shot from an acute angle, though, blazed well over.
Bengaluru continued to apply pressure but were unable to break the deadlock. There were ominous signs when Chhetri missed a sitter following some excellent work on the right flank once again from Udanta. That miss mattered little as Chhetri made amends with two goals in the space of as many minutes. First, he showed great awareness to beat the off-side trap. This time, though, he made no mistake from a one-on-one situation with Kaith.
Two minutes later, Miku played a defence-splitting pass to find the Bengaluru skipper on the left, who cut in and rifled in a shot beyond Kaith. Miku could have added a third before half-time but his chip from just inside the box went over the bar.
Pune warmed up in the second half with a long range effort from Martin Diaz but Bengaluru soon found their passing rhythm. Diaz made way for Diego Carlos as coach Miguel Angel Portugal desperately tried to shake things up for his side.
Those efforts from Pune failed to materialise as Bengaluru put the match to bed with a third goal. Miku made a clever run behind the Stallions’ defence and calmly dispatched the ball into the back of the net. Carlos almost pulled one back for the home side but his crisp shot ended up clipping the post.
Late in the game, Bengaluru’s high defensive line – which was excellent all through the game – was exploited by Marcelinho, but his shot from just inside the box was saved by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Kaith’s timely intervention with his fingertips from a Chhetri free-kick denied the 34-year-old a hat-trick.
Bengaluru looked deadly away from home but with just one point from three games, Pune have a lot to ponder.