Bengaluru FC and Sporting Clube de Goa played out an attritional, if at times engaging, goalless draw at the Football Stadium here on Saturday. A win would have taken Bengaluru to the top of the Airtel I-League table; instead, the side remains in third.
It was a game devoid of much goalmouth action or many clear-cut chances. Sporting defended admirably, as a unit – the fullbacks made vital interceptions and played the offside trap well while the centre-halves held their ground. Bengaluru enjoyed the bulk of the possession and brought some good pressure to bear on the opponent in the last 15 minutes, but a goal did not arrive.
“We haven’t scored but apart from that we were by far the better team,” the Bengaluru head coach Ashley Westwood said afterwards. The Englishman admitted that Sporting, the first side to keep a clean sheet here this season, had been hard to break down. “They played with two banks of four and didn’t commit too many men forward.”
The Sporting head coach Oscar Bruzon said: “I’m happy with the defensive performance but not the transitional and attacking side of it. We came here for all three points but following the game, I feel the point was fair.”
Sporting created a couple of openings through the middle early on, but Victorino Fernandes was thwarted. At the other end, the home team was repeatedly frustrated by tight offside calls, Sean Rooney simply unable to spring clear of the defence. The Sporting centre-half Gonzalo Neila, also the man-of-the-match, allowed Rooney no freedom. Bengaluru displayed greater intensity in the second half as Sporting sought to play on the counter.
There was an early chance off a free-kick but Curtis Osano headed into the side-netting. The Sporting captain Matthew Gonsalves then headed against his own crossbar but the ball bounced out off the underside. That was as close as either side came. Sunil Chhetri, who was honoured before the match for his record as the Indian team’s all-time leading scorer, was involved in a scramble in the box late on, but it came to nought.