Bengaluru FC ran out 4-2 winners over NorthEast United in Match 2 of the ISL 2021-22 season. Six different players found the back of the net in a thrilling contest that ended with the same scoreline as Match 1 of the ISL between ATK Mohun Bagan and Kerala Blasters.
Bengaluru FC enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the opening exchanges in a game made sluggish by a fierce downpour at the GMC Athletic Stadium. But it was NorthEast United who made the initial forays into the final third without much success.
The game finally took off in the 14th minute. A brilliant pass from Udanta Singh found Cleiton Silva through on goal after NorthEast United left too much space in between their defenders. Silva dribbled past Subhashish Chowdhury in goal to score his and Bengaluru FC’s first goal of the new ISL season.
However, the Blues’ joy was short-lived as the Highlanders responded promptly with a strike of their own. Three minutes after Silva’s opener, Mashoor Shereef found VP Suhair on the left with a ball over the top. Suhair dribbled into open space and sent a good ball into the box.
NorthEast United striker Deshorn Brown ghosted in behind the centre-backs, took a touch and fired past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in the Bengaluru FC goal. 1-1 and we well and truly had a game on our hands.
The drama would continue in phenomenally comedic fashion five minutes later. A hopeful cross from Udanta Singh beat Chowdhury in goal but stayed out off the crossbar. The loose ball was struck by Jayesh Rane, whose shot was well-saved well by the NorthEast United custodian. In a moment of sheer craziness, Shereef blasted the ball into the roof of his own net to restore Bengaluru FC’s lead.
Barely three minutes later, the Highlanders would get a reprieve of their own. Another decent ball in from Suhair troubled the Bengaluru FC defense. All Ashique Kuruniyan had to do was clear the ball long. However, he kicked it straight into the path of Mathias Coureur, whose deflected shot from just a few yards out beat Sandhu and restore parity.
Despite either team scoring twice, the best goal of the half was still to come. After a relatively silent 17-minute stretch, Bengaluru FC’s goalscorer Silva slipped in Rane with a clever reverse-pass. The forward ran at the NorthEast United defense before arrowing a low shot into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the box.
3-2 and a few minutes later, the teams finally got a breather as the referee whistled for half-time. It was a thoroughly compelling but scrappy fixture played at breakneck speed – exactly what the ISL is best known for offering.
Prince Ibarra extends Bengaluru FC’s lead as Blues defeat NorthEast United in Match 2 of ISL 2021-22
The second half was comparatively very low-key, with Bengaluru FC content with keeping the ball and working patiently towards the goal. They did have a couple of chances early in the second half through a largely quiet Sunil Chhetri and Cleiton Silva. But Chowdhury in the NorthEast United goal did well to keep his side in the game.
It was a largely scrappy half with few gilt-edged chances. But there was still time for one last goal. In the 82nd minute, Bengaluru FC substitute Prince Ibara received a lofted ball over the NorthEast United defense from Alan Costa. Ibara brought it down brilliantly, took a touch, cut inside to his right and slotted it past Chowdhury at the near-post for his maiden ISL goal.
The score remained the same for the rest of the game despite the Highlanders creating a few chances towards the end. Bengaluru FC picked up their first points of the 2021-22 ISL season, while NorthEast United got off to a poor start.
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The Blues face Odisha FC in their next ISL fixture on November 24 while the Highlanders take on Kerala Blasters one day later.