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Bengaluru maintained their one goal lead to secure three points against Chennaiyin …
The Indian Super League (ISL) matches between Bengaluru and Chennaiyin always had something in store not only for fans, but also for lovers of neutral football in the country.
It is an interesting meeting because both teams are usually very cautious with each other. In the seven head-to-head matches leading up to Friday’s clash, both teams had won three games apiece and posted a stalemate.
Heading into the day, Chennaiyin had a win to their name and the Blues had none after two games. While Chennaiyin had gotten off to a quick start in their first two games, the Blues had been too defensive.
When the game finally started on Friday, neither team wanted to concede the first goal. Both were unwilling to leave room behind for the opponent to attack and refused to push any more numbers into the last third. As a result, it became a cautious affair with an intense battle in the midfield.
On a night when seasoned players like Sunil Chhetri and Cleiton Silva fell short of expected performance levels, it was young midfielder Suresh Wangjam who stood out for the Blues. He was excellent throughout the game, ready to tackle, run with the ball and intercept at the right times.
Bengaluru faced attacks from Chennaiyin, but was helped by an unfortunate injury to Anirudh Thapa early in the game. Edwin Vanspaul was his replacement, but Chennaiyin’s aggression lacked the usual fervor. It was Vanspaul who launched into an untimely challenge that gave away a penalty from which Chhetri scored.
Ashique Kuruniyan, who remains a left-back with Carles Cuadrat, could have had an early bath for persistent early-stage fouls. The Malaysian side’s discipline and positional issues have cost the Blues in the past, but he’s still a left back.
Kuruniyan should have also conceded a penalty when Rafael Crivellaro’s header struck his outstretched arm inside the penalty area, but the referee thought otherwise.
Chennaiyin pushed hard in the second half and was arguably the strongest team towards the end. But since the first three games, it has been Bengaluru’s defensive side that has kept them going.