BENGALURU: Bengaluru FC fought back to down Maziya Sports and Recreation Club 2-1 in their Group E AFC Cup clash at Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Tuesday.
The hosts took the lead through Sunil Chhetri in the 67th minute. Maziya equalised in the 87th when John Johnson handled the ball and conceded a penalty that Mohammed Umair converted. But Bengaluru snatched a winner in the 92nd minute when Shankar Sampangiraj headed in Siam Hangal’s free-kick. Midfielder Josh Walker limped off the field with a pulled muscle in the 15th minute.
Chhetri and Robin Singh had to feed on long clearances. But Bulgarian stopper Zhivkov Dinev bottled them up. Goalkeeper Imran too brought up some fine saves as he denied Shankar and Hangal with fine saves, tipping over the bar their late headers.
BFC coach Ashley Westwood surprisingly employed a five-man defence and that saw chunks of space in midfield for Maziya to exploit. Luckily for the home team, Maziya played the long, high ball for tall striker Pablo Aracil of Spain and failed to utilise the empty spaces. With Johnson and Osano playing with usual composure and understanding, Pablo found it tough to breakthrough.
Hangal and Eugeneson Lyngdoh worked up a couple of moves on the right later and off one such, Hangal sent Chhetri clear. The India captain had only the keeper to beat but placed wide to the shock of everyone. He made amends when he barged in from the left to head home Beingaichho’s free-kick.
Just as it seemed the hosts would hold on to the lead, Maziya forced a corner which Samdhooh floated in before Johnson handled it. Umair placed low and the ball grazed Ralte’s hands and trickled into the net. But Bengaluru had the last laugh when Shankar raced in to head home their winner.
In Malaysia, East Bengal, under new coach Eelco Schattorie, lost 1-4 to Johor Darul Ta’zim.