Bengaluru FC hosted Abahani Dhaka for their first match in the AFC Cup campaign on the back of an unbeaten 13 league games. BFC play the Hero ISL final on Saturday, and for that jefe Roca reserved all his first team for the crucial final at Kanteerava.
Fielding a comparatively mediocre side with Victor Perez Alonso making his debut, BFC still looked solid with Joyner and Zotea at the back giving a sturdy character to the team.
Abhani Dhaka, who had beaten the Blues by a thin margin when they hosted them in Bangaldesh last season, looked to exploit every opportunity they could get as Albert Roca’s men were prepared for the encounter and gave the away side no quarters.
In a match that started off with both sides reluctant to take risks, shots on target were few and far in between. The visitors had the first major opening of the match when Mohamed Miah’s cross was headed towards the bottom left corner of the net by an alert Seiya Kojima inside the box but Ralte was quick to get down in time to save his effort.
The home side slowly settled into the game as the first half wore on but chances created were mostly from long-range efforts. New signing Victor Perez tried his luck from outside the box but his stinging right-footed effort was was blocked. In the 33rd minute, Daniel Lalhimpuia’s long-range effort flew past goalkeeper Alam who was almost beaten despite his desperate dive.
The second-half started just like the first as the persistent midfield battle failed to churn out a clear winner. Daniel Segovia, who was left on the bench by Roca, came into the fray in place of Robinson as the former Barcelona assistant coach looked to up the ante. The substitution worked wonders as Segovia influenced proceedings and ultimately helped the home side break the deadlock.
In the 72nd minute, Alwyn George’s cross was headed into the path of Daniel Lalhlimpuia by the super-sub. The fox in the box slapped the ball hard into the net to turn match-winner on a difficult Asian cup matchday.
The Bangladeshi league champions’ lack of conviction in front of goal made it easier for the Blues to close the game out and secure all three points.
Sunil Chhetri will now lead the well rested and the in-form squad into the finals where the Blues will look to defend the fortress from Chennaiyin FC who had already penetrated in their previous clash there.