Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mumbai 'Keeper Nidhin Lal denies Bengaluru an away win

Bengaluru FC Media 

Bengaluru FC played out a 1-1 draw in a match they deserved to win after a man of the match performance from Mumbai FC 'keeper Nidhin Lal denied the Blues victory at the Cooperage Stadium, in Mumbai. Eugeneson Lyngdoh gave Bengaluru FC a much-deserved lead with a peach of a strike in the 31st minute but his goal was cancelled out by a header from Mumbai striker Josimar Da Silva on the other side of the break.

Bengaluru started from the word go with shots from Lyngdoh and Beikhokhei Beingaichho saved by the stubborn Lal in the opening stages of the game. Ashley Westwood's men had their best chance to break the deadlock when left-back Keegan Pereira's pass forward was controlled well by Sean Rooney in the box. The Australian, off the back of two-goal performance against Sporting Clube de Goa, managed to turn his marker and get a shot away, only to see it palmed away by Lal.

Just past the half hour mark, a touch of class from Lyngdoh was able to finally shake the Mumbai net. Getting on the end of a long ball, Rooney controlled well and passed back to Lyngdoh, who wrapped his foot around the ball to send it curling into the frame. In doing so, the 28-year-old added another spectacular goal to his kitty with a strike that even the on song Lal couldn't keep out.

Having claimed a well deserved lead, Bengaluru were relentless in their pursuit of a second goal. Moments later, Rino Anto's deflected cross fell to the path of BFC skipper Sunil Chhetri, whose pile-driver of an effort seemed destined to hit the net but for Lal's fingertips yet again.

The Blues started the second half with similar intensity but it was the home side that took the lead against the run of play. Mumbai defender Ashutosh Mehta curled a ball into the Blues area that was headed past a hapless BFC 'keeper Lalthuammawia Ralte.

Bengaluru, urged by their travelling support, sent in attack after attack only to see them thwarted away by Lal one after the other. Past the hour mark and looking healthy in possession once again, Beikhokhei sent a curling ball into a dangerous area but Chhetri's diving header was collected by the Mumbai custodian.

But, perhaps the Blues' best opportunity of the second half came in injury time when defender Curtis Osano ran out his half to win the visitors a free-kick in a dangerous area. With seconds left, Pereira sent in another searching ball that was met by a thumping header from Rooney. As was the case for most parts of the game, a diving save from Lal dented the Australian’s hopes of scoring the winner and with it denied the Blues a second consecutive win away from home.

BFC next travel to Indonesia where they face Warriors FC on March 10 in the second group game of the AFC Cup.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Improved Mumbai FC take on confident Bengaluru at home

AIFF Media 
Mumbai FC will be hoping to build on their winning run when they meet defending champions Bengaluru FC in a Round 9 match of the Hero I-League at Cooperage on Tuesday. 

Bengaluru, who come into this match with a morale-boosting 3-1 win over Sporting Clube de Goa, will be hoping to go to the top of the table for the first time this season with a win over Mumbai. Ashley Westwood’s side, however, will have their task cut-out against a rampaging Mumbai.

Mumbai have looked a completely different side since returning to Cooperage after five years. After a forgettable start to the season, they have stayed unbeaten in their last four games, climbing from the bottom place in the league to sixth right now.

It’s also the first time Mumbai FC have won three consecutive matches since 2010, when they beat Mohun Bagan, Air India and Pune FC. Back then, they notched up their fourth win in a row by defeating HAL and Mumbai would be hoping to repeat the feat they achieved five years ago.

But their opponents on Tuesday are no pushovers. In sharp contrast to their home form, Bengaluru have been confident travellers, scoring more goals and conceding fewer while on road as compared to while playing at home. To Westwood’s relief, their key man up front Sean Rooney scored twice in the win over Sporting Clube, signalling his return to form. Combined with Sunil Chhetri, Bengaluru’s attack will provide a tough test for Khalid Jamil’s side.

Westwood said he was not concerned of playing on the artificial turf at Cooperage. “We seem to be doing quite well on artificial pitches so that doesn’t matter. It’s one of the better pitches we have played on – soft and cushioned. We do not have any fitness concerns and will hopefully get the job done tomorrow,” Westwood said.

But the hosts are confident of another solid performance by their defence. Mumbai’s biggest strength has been their robust defence – central defenders Justin Stephen and Chika Wali have the most number of clean sheets amongst defenders and Nidhin Lal with the maximum clean sheets among the goalkeepers.

Midfielders Jayesh Rane, Taisuke Matsugae and the rest have controlled the proceedings with authority and striker Josimar da Silva has been impressive in the last two outings.

Khalid Jamil’s side has used their superior physicality to its advantage so far but they will be tested by an equally physical side that Bengaluru is. “They are a stronger side physically and mentally. We need to play better to beat them,” Jamil said. 

Points Table: BDFA Super Division - 2014-15

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bengaluru ease past Sporting Clube

Bengaluru FC Media  
A first-half brace by Sean Rooney and an acrobatic finish from substitute Beikhokhei less than 10 minutes from time gave Bengaluru FC a 3-1 win over Sporting Clube de Goa at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, on Saturday.

Dominant in a game where his team had more than just a say, Ashley Westwood handed Rooney his first start after a sore groin saw him miss two League games and the striker justified the gaffer’s faith with the pair. Bengaluru wasted no time in making little of Sporting’s home advantage with quick passes and constant threats from the flanks.

Relentless in pursuit of a goal and healthy in possession, Bengaluru finally got what they were chasing in the 29th minute. Bombing down the left, Lalchhuanmawia sent in a cross that missed a leaping Robin Singh only to fall at Rooney’s feet. The striker smartly chose composure over impulse before picking his corner and coolly dinking the ball beyond Ravi Kumar.

Rooney, who turns 26 on Sunday, scored his second in the first minute of added time. Placing the ball 30 yards out after Eugeneson Lyngdoh was hacked down, Rooney’s take beat Kumar all ends up. The Australian's strike had a touch of history to it as the first goal scored from a free-kick for Bengaluru FC.

With trips to Mumbai and Indonesia over the next 10 days, Westwood decided to pull Rooney off for Beikhokhei Beingaichho at half-time and brought on Siam Hanghal for Lyngdoh a little ahead of the hour mark.

Not making much of the two-goal lead, Bengaluru kept making dangerous forays into the Sporting box. However, it was the hosts who scored against the run of play through substitute Anthony Wolfe. Picking the ball up from an Ogba Kalu header, Wolfe beat a high line of defence before his lob sailed over a charging Lalthuammawia Ralte, and bounced into an open goal.

Refusing to sit pretty with possession, Bengaluru kept storming the Sporting box for a third. Robin and Beingaichho were both beaten to the ball from a delightful Lalchhuanmawia cross as the Sporting defence kept soaking in the charge by the visitors. However, the pressure was proving too much to sustain and Beingaichho eventually got the goal that put the game beyond question.

Picked out by Hanghal down the right, Robin sent in a cross that Chhetri hit on target only to see the ball come off a defender and loop perfectly for Beingaichho to acrobatically volley home and kill any chance of sharing a point Sporting wouldn’t have deserved.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

Bengaluru FC take on tough Sporting Clube Goa

Bengaluru FC Media

Bengaluru FC begin a slew of vital away games over the next two weeks with a trip to Goa where they take on bottom-placed Sporting Clube de Goa at the Fatorda Stadium, on Saturday. The Blues, who travel to play Mumbai FC (March 3) and Indonesian side Persipura Jayapura (March 10), will be keen to start the challenging schedule on the right note against a side that's yet to register a win in the League.

Ashley Westwood’s team put aside the disappointment of a 1-4 League defeat at Mohun Bagan to give Bengaluru their first win in Asian football – a 2-1 result over Maldivian side Maziya S&RC at the Kanteerava Stadium, on Tuesday. Shankar Sampingiraj scored a dramatic injury-time winner after Sunil Chhetri scored his second goal in as many games in a victory that Bengaluru will look to use as a springboard.

Though Bengaluru enjoy a 3-0 record over Sporting across competitions, the Blues will be wary of the Goa club who will throw all they have in pursuit of their first win in the League this season. “Sporting Clube are a good side and capable of producing good performances as we saw in the 1-1 draw they had against Pune. Despite being a goal down, they clawed back into the game and for the last half hour, looked like the team that deserved the win. They have good foreigners among their ranks and though their position on the table isn’t the best, we know we will have to churn out a good performance to get something out of this game,” said Westwood on the eve of the game.

The Fatorda has been a happy hunting ground for the Blues who lifted the I-League and Federation Cup titles with wins at the Stadium and are yet to lose a game here.  In fact, the last time the two teams met was at the same venue in the semifinal of the Federation Cup where Bengaluru came away with a 3-0 result.

On the injury front, Bengaluru seem to be without much worry. Sean Rooney, who missed a couple of games with a sore groin, made an appearance as a substitute in the AFC Cup win that also saw the return of Lalchhuanmawia and Rino Anto.  A call on midfielder Joshua Walker, who limped out of the same game with a thigh strain, will be taken by Westwood on Saturday morning. 

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