I-LEAGUE

Rajasthan United and Bengaluru United share the spoils

Match number 2 in Group A saw Rajasthan United FC (RUFC) take on FC Bengaluru United (FCBU) at the Bangalore Football Stadium

Match number 2 in Group A saw Rajasthan United FC (RUFC) take on FC Bengaluru United (FCBU) at the Bangalore Football Stadium.

A seesaw game between both teams saw Bengaluru enjoy a solid first half, while Rajasthan made a comeback to draw level and outplay their opponents. The match ended 1-1, with FCBU defender Kinshuk Debnath seeing red in the 86th minute.

The match kicked off with both teams testing each other. However, Bengaluru United’s confidence rose as they kept more of the ball. Bengaluru looked to build from the back. The team looked positive while retaining possession and exploiting all areas of the pitch.

Rajasthan came prepared with a set game plan, displaying a strategy that involved preserving the 0-0 and not conceding an early goal. As the game advanced, RUFC began to dig deep. They started to play long vertical passes, transitioning defence to attack at a high speed.

RUFC wingers Aman Thapa and Dilliram Sanyasi showed glimpses of wriggling through. But the final pass that could have put them through was lacking.

The game tilted to either side early on, and sprung to life towards the later parts of the first half. FCBU’s Spaniard Pedro Manzi began to register more touches of the ball. However, it was Luka Majcen, his strike partner, who was handed the first real chance of the game.

FCBU winger Gopi lofted in a cross from the right wing. A late run from the Slovenian allowed him to volley it first time at goal. Opposition keeper Vishal Joon stretched and managed to get his fingertips to it though.

Bengaluru made the breakthrough in the 41st minute from a set piece. With a free kick on the left wing, Sanju Pradhan dispatched a pin-point cross which Majcen directed at goal.

Vishal Joon got a hand to the initial attempt but Pedro Manzi was on the follow up to finish in style. This marked Manzi’s first goal of the 2021 Qualifiers.

Rajasthan, in response, began to attack out wide with their wingers players hunting for the most suitable opening. Just before half-time, RUFC coordinated a beautiful move where all their attackers combined smoothly. They did not score however, but the move gave them a better comprehension of how to approach the following half.

Rajasthan United and Bengaluru United competed in a game that could have gone either way, with both sides lacking the final clinical touch
Rajasthan United and Bengaluru United competed in a game that could have gone either way, with both sides lacking the final clinical touch

55 minutes in, Rajasthan came agonisingly close to equalising from a set piece of their own. Aman Thapa delivered an exceptionally shaped cross into the 6 yard box, which needed just a final touch from an RUFC player to slot home. Instead, the ball bounced out for a corner.

The game slowed down for a brief period, similar to the first half. It sprung back to life when Rajasthan United equalised through striker Sukhjit Singh in the 78th minute. Once again Aman Thapa began the move, as Rajasthan’s number 7 caused Bengaluru’s backline all sorts of problems.

He worked to send the ball up the field to Sukhjit Singh, who shifted onto his left foot and took a shot that deflected off an FCBU player. The keeper, Kunzang Bhutia, was left completely wrong footed as the ball rolled into the net.

RUFC got lucky with the deflection. Nonetheless, the goal was well-deserved, credit to their domination all through the second half.

The draw keeps Rajasthan United top of Group A while Bengaluru United need to rethink their strategy if they are to stand a chance at qualification
The draw keeps Rajasthan United top of Group A while Bengaluru United need to rethink their strategy if they are to stand a chance at qualification

With the scored back level, the game heated up to an exciting conclusion. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse for Bengaluru. Veteran centre-half Kinshuk Debnath saw red for hampering an opposition player who was through on goal.

Taking advantage of the resultant free kick, Aman Thapa forced the keeper into making a save. Bhutia was able to tip a venomous shot over the bar.

With 10 men on the pitch, Bengaluru were desperate to protect that one point. Still optimistic, they also attempted to make it three through their own chance creation.

Pedro Manzi was given half a chance. The striker headed in near post, drawing a reactionary save from Joon. The match culminated with either side having their respective say in the game.

Rajasthan United remain at the top of Group A with four points from two matches. Meanwhile, FC Bengaluru United need to pull their socks quickly.

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