Bengaluru FC, riding on two penalty goals, scored an odd-goal-in-three win over Salgaocar FC to widen its lead at the top of the Airtel I-League pile-up, here on Saturday.
One could sure debate at length the validity of the two penalties that BFC won and promptly converted, but that’s what home advantage is to some extent. Incidentally, all three goals on this day came from the penalty spot.
The match had its frills and spills but very few goalmouth thrills. Sunil Chhetri and Sean Rooney did speed down the flanks but failed to have a clear look at the rival goal wherein Karanjit Singh was not unduly tested. On the other hand, the Goan side did stitch a couple of fine moves down the middle but failed to find the net.
Two long shots did nothing more than raise an eyebrow for coach Ashley Westwood who did a jig of sorts when Nicalao Colaco inadvertently handled the ball inside the box and referee A. Rowen did not hesitate in pointing to the spot. Chhetri wasted little time sending custodian Karanjit the wrong way in the 29th minute, much to the joy of 7000 strong BFC supporters.
The match turned dreary after the break until Salgaocar brought in fresh legs to pep up the attack, almost immediately earning a penalty.
This time BFC’s substitute wing-back Vishal Kumar was struck on the hand following a darting run down the left by Clifton Dias prompting Rowan to point to the spot again. Gilbert Olivera sent his grounder wide past a diving Pawan Kumar, manning the BFC goal.
If one thought the match would end on even terms, substitute Robin Singh was not done yet. The crafty midfielder who seemingly looked in an ‘aggressive mood’ right from moment he entered the field was challenged by defender Augustine Fernandes while racing into the box with the ball.
But, the crafty international dived inside the box, ‘fooling’ Rowan into awarding a controversial spot-kick. Salgaocar players did surround the referee and protest, but Rowan stuck to his decision and Robin sent his left footed pile-driver to the far corner much to the dismay of Karanjit and the Goan team.
While BFC go into the long break with 30 points from 15 matches (nine wins and three draws), Salgaocar (19 points from 14 matches) and coach Derrick Pereira will have to ponder what went wrong in their last five matches (four of them losses).
The result: Bengaluru FC 2 (Sunil Chhetri 29, Robin Singh 90+3) bt Salgaocar FC 1 (Gilbert Olivera 85).