Bengaluru: Two second half goals by Udanta Singh and Sunil Chhetri helped Bengaluru FC overcome a 0-2 deficit to draw the match against Kerala Blasters at Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday night.
Kerala Blasters, with a two-goal lead in the first-half, were on course for their second win of this season. But the hosts made a spectacular comeback in the second half to be undefeated for the 13th time in 14 matches they have played so far.
Slavisa Stojanovic put Kerala Blasters ahead in the 15th minute, converting a spot kick. The Blasters were awarded one after Mohamad Rakip’s cross from the right flank fell on Kean Lewis’ outstretched arm. Stojanovic, without any fuss, shot right and the Bengaluru keeper, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, dove left.
The Blues, for most of the first half, looked listless. They mis-passed, hardly created chances, and committed many fouls whilst trying to stop the Blasters from making inroads. Albert Serran and Erik Paartalu received yellow cards, 35 minutes into the game.
There were, of course, little sparks in a largely lacklustre half for the hosts. Erik Paartalu’s through ball into the box in the 29th minute, for instance, caught the Blasters defence unaware. But the Blues couldn’t capitalise on the chance. Sunil Chhetri, desperate to latch on to the ball, rushed a little too early and was given off-side.
Ten minutes later, arrived the spectacle of the half – maybe of the match, even. Sahal Abdul Samad played a through ball on the right to Seiminlen Doungel inside the box. Doungel, surrounded by defenders, passed it outside the box towards Courage Pekuson. Pekuson skipped once and blasted the ball to the right corner of Bengaluru’s net.
Gurpreet, who perhaps didn’t expect the shot had no chance. The sides played more roughly in the second half than they did in the first. The Blasters got three yellow cards. This was also an indication of the Blues’ dominance in the half. On several occasions they came alarmingly close to narrow the lead. Chhetri missed two chances – heading the ball over the net and kicking it, sans enough power, straight to the keeper.
But the hosts, thereafter, were ablaze sparked by the raucous home supporters. It was just a matter of time before they equalised.
The hosts, however, narrowed the lead in the 69th minute with a goal as spectacular as Pekuson’s. Chhetri, receiving a long pass from Paartalu, set the ball up for Udanta Singh, who with a diving header, put the ball past Blasters’ keeper Dheeraj Singh.
Then, with five minutes for the regulation time to end, Chhetri, assisted by Udanta, headed the ball into the net to level the score for the hosts. It seemed like he and his team were having an off day. But his equaliser helped Bengaluru open up a four-point lead over Mumbai City at the top of the table.