Thongkhosiem Haokip’s second-half strike gave Carles Cuadrat’s Bengaluru FC a 1-0 win over Paro FC at the Changlimithang Stadium, in Thimphu, on Wednesday. In a game that saw Bengaluru make several changes to their Indian Super League side, new signing Nili Perdomo made his first start alongside BFC B graduate Naorem Roshan Singh.
A cagey affair came to life after a quarter of an hour when winger Kean Lewis found himself in space in the box, only to see his effort blocked away and a shot on the rebound go wide of the mark. Moments later, after Roshan was brought down outside the area, Juanan Gonzalez whipped a free-kick on target but Paro goalkeeper Tobgay tipped it over the bar.
Semboi had his first chance when, after playing a give-and-go with Roshan, found himself in space to take a shot, but the striker’s effort failed to trouble the Paro custodian. Bengaluru saw away all of Paro’s forays and attacked with intent, but failed to add a finishing touch as both sides went into the break with the scores unchanged.
Starting the second half with renewed vigour, Bengaluru took just eight minutes to break the deadlock. Attacking on the counter, Perdomo found Roshan outside the box, and the debutant took a touch before laying an inch-perfect pass for Semboi to latch onto. With a tight angle and an onrushing ‘keeper to beat, the striker slipped his effort beyond Tobgay to give the Blues the lead.
Cuadrat made the first of his changes, bringing on Sunil Chhetri to replace Roshan just past the hour mark after the winger went down with cramps in what was freezing temperatures in Thimphu. Semboi had a chance to double his tally and the Blues’ lead soon after, but his shot from Perdomo’s pass was saved by Tobgay once again.
Midfielders Suresh Wangjam and Kean were then withdrawn to be replaced by Sairuat Kima and another BFC B graduate, Biswa Darjee in the final stages. Paro’s attack, spearheaded by former Bengaluru winger Chencho Gyeltshen, was kept at bay for most parts of the game and the Blues saw out the slender advantage.
Bengaluru return to Indian Super League duties on the weekend with a clash against Chennaiyin FC at the JN Stadium, in Chennai, on Sunday, before the reverse of their AFC Cup Preliminary Stage Two clash at the Kanteerava Stadium on 12th February.