After Thoi Singh giving Bengaluru the lead just before halftime, table toppers Bengaluru FC defeated United SC 3-1 in the round 21 encounter of the Airtel I-League at the Kalyani Stadium in Kalyani on Thursday afternoon to go seven points clear.
Eric Brown quickly equalized for the hosts from the spot early in the second period, however an own goal from Dhanachandra Singh, and a late strike from India captain Sunil Chhetri saw Ashley Westwood’s side record their fourth away win of the campaign.
The result also keeps United SC very much in the relegation battle as they remain only five points above rock-bottom Churchill Brothers but have played two extra games.
It was a pretty even contest in the early stages with ball possession being similar and neither side created any clear opportunity in the opening quarter but Bengaluru striker Robin Singh had to come off with an injury.
Bengaluru started to take control after the hour mark and showed more purpose going forward. They had the first real attempt of the game when Rooney tested United SC custodian Jayanta Paul while Chhetri also had a penalty claim denied.
The visitors strong finish to the half was rewarded with a goal after a fine team move. Rooney and Chhetri exchanged passes before the Australian found an unmarked Thoi, who scored from close range.
Bengaluru started the second half strongly also but from a counter attack, the purple shirts won a penalty when Shouvik Chakraborty was brought down inside the box by Keegan Pereira. Brown coolly converted the spot-kick to restore parity.
Bengaluru raised their tempo further after conceding with Chhetri going close with a volley. The away side regained their lead just after the hour-mark when a Rooney header went into the back of the net after a taking a deflection off Dhanachandra.
The goal came after Rooney headed Rinto Anto’s cross goal wards but the final touch came off Dhanachandra and the match officials later credited it to the unfortunate United SC defender.
Despite going in front, Bengaluru continued to attack and could have put the game to bed when Rooney found himself free inside the box but his shot was saved by Paul while Chhetri’s effort from the rebound was cleared of the line by Bello Rassaq.
At the other end, United SC did create a couple of great opportunities to equalise but Waheed was wasteful while substitute Surajit Bose was also booked for diving.
Both sides made plenty of changes in the final 15 minutes with Bengaluru also losing defender John Johnson through injury.
Chhetri finally sealed the points late on by capitalizing on an error from Dhanachandra and slotting past Paul for his 13th of the campaign.