BENGALURU : It will not be an exaggeration to say that Bengaluru FC are India’s set-piece kings. Even when Carles Cuadrat’s men have failed to take their chances from open play, they have managed to find the net from these situations. On Thursday, they were not at their clinical best against bottom-dwellers Hyderabad FC, but Nishu Kumar’s longrange effort in the seventh minute following a corner kick and several crucial saves by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu handed the hosts a 1-0 win in the Indian Super League at Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday.
The win meant Bengaluru climbed to the second place with 28 points from 15 matches, while the visitors maintained their place at the bottom of the table at 10th with six points from 15. Cuadrat made one change to his starting XI that beat Odisha FC 3-0 a week ago. Nishu replaced an injured Rahul Bheke in the left-back position. For Hyderabad, Giles Barnes came in for Laldanmawia Ralte. The match swung both ways in the first half with the teams hitting attack mode early on.
But it was Bengaluru who opened the scoring. After scoring all the three goals from setpieces in the last match, Bengaluru found the net from a similar situation. Dimas Delgado floated the ball towards an unmarked Nishu outside the box. The defender’s rightfooter beat Laxmikant Kattimani in the Hyderabad goal. Of the 19 goals Bengaluru have scored so far, 13 have come from set-pieces. It was an intense battle thereafter, with Hyderabad coming close two minutes later.
Nikhil Poojary won the ball on the right and beat the defenders with his pace, but only to shoot wide. On the other end, Bengaluru too kept pressing high. Hyderabad had a chance in the 26th minute when referee Tejas Nagvenkar awarded a penalty after Suresh Singh Wangjam brought down Marcelinho inside the box. Marko Stankovic took the shot but Gurpreet guessed right to deny him. Brazilian striker Bobo had a go from the rebound but the keeper saved that too. Then on, it was anyone’s game as both sides had their chances, but nothing seemed to go in.
At the break, Hyderabad had more shots and more chances compared to the hosts. The second half was no different either. However, Bengaluru forwards failed to make the chances count. Deshorn Brown had as many as four chances to increase the lead. But the Jamaican had an offday as he failed every time. When Bengaluru brought on their new signing Nili Perdomo, the Spaniard too had five chances but failed to keep any on the target.
Ashique Kuruniyan too came close without being able to fire the ball in. On the other hand, Gurpreet stayed alert to let nothing go past him, especially, in the first minute of added-on time when Hyderabad came close. Some fine interchanges between Liston Colaco and Adil Khan saw the former through on the Bengaluru goal. Colaco took the shot from six yards but Gurpreet saved his effort to ensure three points for Bengaluru.
MUMBAI CITY SEEK WIN AGAINST STRUGGLERS
MUMBAI: Mumbai City FC will be eyeing a win when they take on laggards NorthEast United FC in an Indian Super League game here on Friday, even as the race for the top four slots gets closer. The hosts have four games to go in the league stage and more importantly three are to be played in front of the home crowd at the Mumbai Football Arena. Mumbai, placed fifth with 20 points, had a topsy-turvy campaign so far. PTI