Three Kerala players were sent off in a frustrating performance that saw Derby rivals Bengaluru get their first win in Asia’s oldest competition. As a result, Blasters have three points from two matches. They need to win their final group match against Delhi FC on 21st September for qualifying for the knockouts.
Whereas, Bengaluru face Delhi FC and the Indian Navy on 18th and 21st September respectively. After a frustrating AFC Cup campaign, the win could have brought a lot of confidence for the Blues fans.
Bengaluru have the last laugh against hapless Kerala Blasters in the Durand Cup
Kerala Blasters were coming into the match after a well-fought 1-0 win against Indian Navy. However, with a better squad depth against Bengaluru, who fielded their reserves, the two-time Indian Super League finalists were clearly looking like the favourites.
But, the referee was comparatively harsh as compared to the previous match and multiple defensive errors cost them setbacks. On the other hand, the Kochi-based side were lacking the cutting edge upfront as Sreekuttan missed an early chance in the 38th minute deciding the shot to be taken by himself.
Bengaluru took the lead just before half-time from a spectacular free kick from Namgyal Bhutia. The 22-year-old midfielder hit the ball with the perfect accuracy and precision past Kerala custodian Albino Gomes.
The second half started with Blasters looking hungry for the equalizer after superb pressing against Bengaluru defence. However, what followed was frustration after losing three of their players – Hormipam Ruivah, Denechandra Meitei and Sandeep Singh, after getting a red cards. The players succumbed to the pressure and will not be available for the next match.
Bengaluru goalkeeper Lara was announced as the man of the match after delivering some brilliant saves to deny Kerala an equalizer. In the 71st minute, the Blues increased their lead after another defensive error that helped Leon Augustine to score. However, the referee turned down a handball appeal despite the player looked like hitting the ball with his hand during video replays.
Ivan Vukomanovic needs to get his players going as they lock horns with Delhi FC in their final encounter. Whereas, they must hope Bengaluru to win or draw all their remaining fixtures so as to achieve qualification to quarterfinals.
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