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Bengaluru FC were minutes short of crowning a fairy-tale start to their debut I-League season, but with CS Sabeeth scoring in the dying moments, Mohun Bagan neutralized a second half strike from Sean Rooney, and the visiting team shared honors with debutants Bengaluru FC in the First Round of their Airtel I-league encounter at the packed Bangalore Football Stadium today.
It was the home team that drew first blood in the 49th minute of the match, when their Aussie striker Sean Rooney poked home against the run of play.
And just when it looked that the home side was heading for a dream debut, CS Sabeeth spoilt the perfect party as the Bagan striker headed a ball into the Bengaluru FC net deep into second half stoppage time.
Earlier both the teams missed one penalty each as the two teams had to be satisfied with one point each – offenders being Mohun Bagan’s Katsumi Yusa in the first half and Bengaluru FC’s Rooney post the breather, the latter ruing the chance to cap a brace for his new club.
Despite playing their first match, it was the home side that started strongly penetrating into the Bagan box within the first five minutes of play.
The visitors then came back strongly thanks to some brilliant ball play by Katsumi in the midfield. Despite missing the penalty early on, Bagan managed to create some chances but failed to find the back of the net.
The closest they came to scoring in the first half apart from the penalty was in the 21st minute when Sabeeth’s shot was saved by Bengaluru FC keeper Pawan Kumar. The hosts were unlucky when John Johnson’s header hit the post in the 34th minute.
In the second half, Bagan started showing nerves early on as they conceded the goal and then a penalty. Trailing 1-0, they pressed hard for the equalizer but were unlucky a couple of times. Katsumi hit the woodwork in the 60th and 69th minute respectively.
Sunil Chhetri who came in as a substitute for the hosts in the second half got a great opportunity in the 83th minute, but his shot went past the goal post.
One minute later, Siam Hangal got a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 for the hosts, but he failed to round off the goalkeeper.
The hosts were reduced to ten men in the 90th when Thoi Singh was shown a red card following his second booking.
Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa was happy with the result and admitted that Bengaluru FC would be the team to watch this season. “They gave a really good account of themselves and will be the team to watch. In a month you will come back and tell me that we earned a point here,” he said.
Westwood was a bit disappointed at not having walked away with three points he thought his boys deserved. "We do feel hard done but that's how it is. We played some good football but were left to rue our finishing. The boys have worked hard all through pre-season and its showing. The crowd was fantastic today and we want them to keep backing us like the way they did," said Westwood.
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