Tuesday night brought the AFC Cup to India, with Bengaluru playing host to Bhutanese team Transport United in the second leg of their qualifying round tie. The first leg ended up 0-0, however, this didn’t represent the performance Bengaluru produced. How they weren’t leaving that game with a comfortable lead is beyond me. Anyway, Bengaluru was looking to produce a similar performance and come out on top to qualify for the play-off round.
Going Into The Game…
Bengaluru went into the game on the back of a 2-1 win against NorthEast. They hadn’t lost in their previous three games, so they were definitely going into the game with the confidence of pulling out a result.
Transport United went into the game sitting at the top of their league. They hadn’t lost a game all season going into the game, and they were thumping some teams with scorelines such as 13-0 and 6-3. They were looking at the game and hoping they could sneak a 1-0 win, as they were not going to dominate proceedings against Bengaluru.
The First Half…
The first half started and Bengaluru wasn’t messing around. They won a corner within the first minute of the game, and they really pushed on from there. They had chances in the tenth, eleventh, thirteenth minute, with the Transport keeper being on top form. Then a major chance fell to Daniel Lalhlimpuia, he found himself one-on-one with the keeper, shot fairly early and the shot was saved unconvincingly, just going over the bar and landing on the top of the net. It seemed like it was going to be a very similar day for Bengaluru.
Then a contender for miss of the season happened. Nishu Kumar found himself in the box, he squared it to Dovale, he just needs to hit the target and he scores, but he rushes, and skies it. What a wally! Bengaluru then had chances in both the nineteenth and twentieth minute, however, they both went begging.
Another major chance fell Bengaluru’s way in the twenty-fourth minute. Toni crossed to the unmarked Zotea, who has a free header and heads it straight to the keeper. He should have definitely made 1-0.
However, three minutes later, Bengaluru finally find the net, as some lovely wing play from Semboi frees him up for a cross, it perfectly finds Boithang Hoakip who heads it past the keeper and it’s finally 1-0 Bengaluru.
Bengaluru were not finished there as they pushed for another goal straight away. They came close, once again, in the thirtieth minute, when Semboi sees his shot just saved on the line. They had the last chance of the first half on the thirty-fourth minute when Toni crossed in for Juanan, who has a free header but sent it way over the bar, he should have scored there.
The Second Half…
Overall, the second half was less eventful than the first, which isn’t surprising with the number of chances Bengaluru created. The first real event to happen in the second half was Bengaluru’s second goal through Lalhlimpuia’s thunderous long-range strike that left Transport’s keeper rooted.
The next chance also went in for Bengaluru as they went 3-0 up through Semboi’s first goal of the game. Toni passes to Khabra, who puts a brilliant ball through and Semboi couldn’t miss. 3-0, game over, onto the next round.
Before the end of the game, Bengaluru had two more chances to make the scoreline bigger. The first came on seventy-eight minutes as Semboi had a free header well saved. Then, finally, on ninety minutes Alywn George tried to the lob the keeper, however, he also lobbed the bar and the full-time whistle went. 3-0.
With this win, Bengaluru progress to the play-off round of the AFC Cup. This is brilliant for both Bengaluru and the ISL. To have a team representing the league in a major continental competition will help the league get the exposure it deserves. Come on Bengaluru, the whole league are rooting for you! Don’t let us down!