Barasat: Bengaluru FC consolidate on the top of I-League after beating East Bengal 1-0 in an Round-4 encounter played at the Barasat Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.

After a barren first-half the all-important goal came in the 60th minute through Sunil Chhetri, which ultimately turned out to be the match winner.

The fifth round win also meant Bengaluru FC moved two points clear at the top of the I-League standings with 12 points, two ahead of Mohun Bagan (10 pts) while East Bengal remain on third with 8 points.

Going into the game, Bengaluru FC made four changes to the lineup that lost against Mumbai FC midweek handing starts to Amrinder Singh Seiminlen Doungel, Malsawmzuala and Thoi Singh. East Bengal, on other hand, also made three changes from the side that beat DSK Shivajians earlier in the week handing starts to Samad Ali Mallick and Joaqium Abranches along side Narayan Das who was making his debut for East Bengal.

Bengaluru FC’s best chance of the first half came in the 40th minute when Doungel handed Kim a cut back that the striker should have done more with than flash wide from just outside the box. Westwood and the Bengaluru bench had their arms up soon in the second half again when Chhetri, unchallenged, saw his shot saved by TP Rehenesh after being found at the end of Shankar Sampingiraj’s cross from the right.

But Chhetri didn’t have to wait long to makes amends, turning up at the right place and at the right time to tap in Rino Anto’s cross on the hour mark that sank Barasat into silence. With no choice but to chase the game, East Bengal threw numbers in attack only to be caught out on the counter by the Blues who used Len’s pace to good effect.

Bengaluru, in fact, could have got a second only three minutes later when Kim, after combining well with Chhetri and Len, saw  his shot saved by Rehenesh from close.

Desperate for a goal to bring them back in the game, East Bengal pushed further but The Blues’ defence was too compact to let anything through. John Johnson and Curtis Osano gave Ranti Martins no joy while Lalchhuanmawia put in a brilliant shift in shutting out the pace of Do Dong down the left. Anything that did get past them was comfortably dealt with by Amrinder who pulled off a good save off a Dong freekick late in the second half and it was his composed show that saw him walk away with the man-of-the-match gong.

Bengaluru FC now have 12 points from five games and play their next three games at home, hosting Sporting Clube de Goa (Feb. 6), DSK Shivajians (Feb. 10) and Mohun Bagan (Feb. 13).

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About Ajay M.