Reigning champion Bengaluru FC beat two-time winner ATK 1-0 in the first leg of the Indian Super League semifinal at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.
Deshorn Brown’s first-half strike from a strangle inside ATK penalty area, secured the Bengaluru FC a much-needed win that provide them with an edge over ATK before away second-leg in Kolkata.
ATK’s dangerous duo, David Williams and Roy Krishna, combined well to apparently provide ATK with a lead on 17th minute. Krishna found his teammate with a well-timed cross. While receiving, the ball struck William’s hand; nevertheless, the Aussie brilliantly hit past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, but the goal was ruled out for an obvious reason.
The home side played the last five odd minutes with ten men after Nishu Kumar was sent off for halting Roy Krishna abruptly in front of an open goal, and very rightly was shown red. ATK largely depended on their main attacking duo and set-pieces, but Bangaluru were well aware and well entrenched defensively to provide them a chance.
ATK struggled to equalise the chances they got at the later stages of the match. This led to ample spaces in their defence and Bangalore tried to make use of that in the counter-attack. Arindam made amends of his earlier mistake with a brilliant save to deny Kevaughn Frater’s effort from the edge of the box.
An untimely injury to the Brazilian meant that the Blues were suddenly short on numbers and had to call upon Suresh Wangjam, an unheralded midfielder. Suresh began the encounter as part of a three-man midfield, alongside Dimas and Paartalu. Throughout the opening period, he looked a bundle of energy as he tracked his runners diligently and took up superb positions to cut off ATK’s passing lanes.
Earlier in the evening, the first chance of the match fell to BFC in the seventh minute when Rahul Bheke rose to meet Dimas Delgado’s corner but headed it over the bar. But for that, BFC pegged itself deep with ATK doing all the pressing.
The host’s first phase of sustained pressure came around 30 minutes, and it brought three consecutive corners. While not much came off them, BFC struck immediately after, when Brown bundled the ball in from close range after ATK goalie Arindam Bhattacharya made a mess of a weak shot from central defender Juanan.
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