The battle between the top two sides in the Hero ISL ended all square at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium as Bengaluru FC and 10-men Mumbai City FC maintained their respective unbeaten runs. Former Islander Udanta Singh’s header gave BFC the lead before Modou Sougou popped up with a diving header to earn the Islanders a crucial point.
It was a quick start from the boys in gold with Sougou getting behind the defence in the first minute but was called offside, the first of many on the night. The first chance of the game fell to Bhutanese striker, Chencho Gyeltshen who made a run into the box and saw his left-footed shot go wide off the far post.
With the game catching up pace, Sehnaj Singh was shown a yellow card in the 10th minute for a challenge on Erik Paartalu in midfield. The experienced Lucian Goian made a last-ditch tackle to deny BFC a clear opportunity on goal in the 13th minute and that showed why he’s one of the best in the league.
Arnold Issoko was a constant menace down the right flank, going past the defenders and delivering crosses. But, it was BFC who drew first blood in the big game as Udanta Singh rose the highest to meet a cross from Rahul Bheke. The Islanders weren’t behind for too long. Modou Sougou did exceptionally well to beat his marker in the box, racing on to a fantastic cross from Arnold Issoko. It was game on after the half an hour mark.
What happened in the next minutes pretty much surprised BFC and their faithful. The Islanders almost took the lead when a cross from Paulo Machado found Rafael Bastos on the edge of the box, he took a touch before curling the ball past the goal and an on-looking Gurpreet. Once again, Bastos had the chance of the game to put the Islanders ahead but his header in the box was straight at Gurpreet who made a comfortable save.
The first half was intense and both teams went into the break at level terms. BFC made their first change during the break, Xisco Fernandez replacing Chencho Gyeltshen. The Islanders didn’t hold back after the break, attacking right from the referee’s whistle. A header from Bastos was flicked on for Sougou who charged down on goal and took a shot but Gurpreet made a good save to deny him.
At the other end, our number one Amrinder Singh made a fantastic one-handed save to keep out the opposition and BFC skipper, Sunil Chhetri from distance. There was a shock for Jorge Costa when Sehnaj Singh was given the marching orders for a second yellow card in the 51st minute. It seemed like a setback for the Islanders who were slowly taking control of the game.
Despite going down to 10-men, there was no stopping the Islanders who were making BFC work harder. Harmanjot Khabra was the next to go into the book for an argument with Rafael Bastos. Just over the hour mark, the goal scorer Modou Sougou’s header was just a few centimeters away from silencing the stadium.
On the right flank, Arnold Issoko was playing on another planet by making the runs constantly and that gave the Islanders an extra push. With the last quarter of the hour left, substitute Xisco let fly a left-footed shot on goal but Amrinder reacted exceptionally well to push it away for a BFC corner. The resulting corner found the head of Erik Paartalu but his header cannoned off the crossbar and onto the roof of the net.
Sunil Chhetri’s free-kick in the 81st minute saw him get his effort over the wall but straight into the hands of the ever reliable Amrinder Singh. There was a lot of desperation towards the end with Rafael Bastos and Modou Sougou going into the referee’s book. The Islanders did well to withstand the final few minutes of attack from BFC to end the game as it started.
The draw extended the Islanders’ unbeaten run to seven games and taking their first point against Bengaluru FC in their short 3-game history. With 11 games played, the Islanders move onto 21 points and face Kerala Blasters FC in their final game of 2018 and of the first phase of the Hero ISL at the Arena on December 16.