Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Chhetri goal gives Bengaluru key win against Ayeyawady

Bengaluru FC Media  

Skipper Sunil Chhetri struck in the 34th minute to give JSW Bengaluru FC a vital win and keep their AFC Cup campaign on track as the Blues beat Ayeyawady United 1-0 at the Youth Training Centre, in Myanmar, on Wednesday.  Bengaluru’s first points in the competition this season put them on joint second in Group H with three points alongside Ayeyawady and Lao Toyota while Malaysian team Johor Darul Ta’zim keep pole position.

The game was played in telling weather conditions prompting referee Aziz Asimov to ring in water breaks once in each half but Bengaluru did well to battle the heat and opponents who have an enviable home record in Asian competition.  Ashley Westwood’s boys could have finished things off more comfortably had it not been for two gilt-edged chances that CK Vineeth and Udanta Singh should have done better with.

Having lost their first two games, Bengaluru made the trip to Yangon knowing that even a draw could prove fatal for their chances to come out of the group stages and Westwood’s boys made their intentions clear, regularly creating chances in and around the Ayeyawady box.

It was Chhetri’s move that led to the goal when, after picking the ball on the edge of the box, he did well to find Udanta with a deft flick. The No.21 chose to cut back for the skipper who seemed to have miscued his shot and failed to connect cleanly. But Ayeyawady ’keeper Vanlal Hruai dived to his left in anticipation only to see the ball trickle in on his right.

Earlier Westwood started with a back four that had Keegan Pereira partnering John Johnson in the centre for a third straight game after regular centre-half Curtis Osano didn’t recover from a tweaked groin to make the squad. The gaffer also handed Alwyn George and Siam Hanghal starts in a midfield completed by Chhetri and Michael Collins while Udanta partnered Kim Song Yong ahead.

Down a goal at home, Ayeyawady began chasing the game and had a spell where a flurry of half-chances were either thwarted away by the Blues’ defence or squandered with tame attempts that Amrinder Singh didn’t have to do much to save. But Ayeyawady’s best chance to equalise came in the 73rd minute when Christopher Chizoba and Thiha Zaw found themselves in a 2v1 situation only for Chhuantea to stick in a leg for a timely interception of a pass that Zaw was waiting to put away.

Bengaluru had big chances of their own, ones which if taken, could have quelled any sort of fight from Ayeyawady. Second half substitute, Vineeth did well to beat the off-side trap and finding himself with only Hruai to get past, inexplicably shot at the ’keeper. And just when Bengaluru put away the disappointment of that wasted chance, Udanta squandered one just minutes later. Picking the ball just ahead of the halfway line, the youngster exhibited great pace and brawn to dart into the Ayeyawady box. But with three options at his disposal, Vineeth being the best, he chose to go on his own only to see his strike scrambled away by the Ayeyawady  custodian.

The Blues now have a welcome gap of a fortnight before they resume their League campaign when they host Mumbai FC on April 2.