Eric Paartalu scored and assisted on his return to the starting lineup as Bengaluru FC picked up their first victory of the Indian Super League 2019-20 season. Sunil Chhetri and Thongkhosiem Haokip also found the net as the Blues returned to winning ways after unconvincing draws in first three matches against North East, Goa and Jamshedpur.
Manager Carles Cuadrat made a couple of changes after their goalless draw at Jamshedpur with Australian Eric Paartalu coming in for Seran allowing Bheke to move back into defence. The promising Ashique Kuruniyan received his first start in attack alongside Sunil Chettri and Udanta Singh.
After their close defeat at home to ATK, Manager J Gregory brought in Andre Schembri and young Rahim Ali as they shifted to a 4-4-2 formation. Bengaluru began with on the front foot from the kick-off after netting just one goal in the opening three games and the strategy paid off. Eric Paartalu showed the home fans what they were missing as he powered Delgado’s corner home.
BFC continued to pile pressure as they knocked doors of Chennaiyin defence and within the next ten minutes, the hosts doubled their lead via their skipper Sunil Chhetri. The 35-year-old latched on a long ball from former Chennaiyin midfielder Rafael Augusto and hit on the first time from outside the penalty area past Vishal Kaith in the Chennaiyin goal.
After a poor attacking show in the first half, the two-time ISL champions showed some intent to half the deficit but their efforts did not trouble Gurpreet Singh Sandhu much in the Bengaluru goal.
In the 82nd minute, Haokip showed great strength and determination to reach a lobbed pass from Paartalu and toe poke it between the oncoming Kaith’s legs to seal the game for the champions. Sunil Chhetri did have a chance to get a second but failed to hit the open net from meters away.
Both Cuadrat and BFC will get some relief with the victory as the focus will turn to the international break as India will travel to Afghanistan and Oman for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Once back, BFC will look move into the top four when they welcome Kerala Blasters while Chennaiyin will face another South Indian rivals and newcomers Hyderabad FC.