Tuesday night had the return of AFC Cup football to India as Bengaluru, looking to hold on to a one-goal advantage, played host to Maldives side TC Sports. The first leg ended 3-2 to Bengaluru after the Indian side allowed their opponents to stage a late comeback and give them a slight chance of going through. However, Bengaluru didn’t make the same mistake twice.
Going Into The Game…
The first leg took place over in the Maldives and Bengaluru left the Maldives with a one-goal advantage after winning the tie 3-2. The game was closer than fans initially thought, however, Bengaluru shouldn’t have conceded two goals and really should have had more than three games.
TC Sports were a little better than what I was expecting but they still didn’t look to have enough to really trouble Bengaluru and going into the second leg, I fully expected them to be blown away and I definitely wasn’t wrong.
The first ten minutes or so was mainly TC Sports as they looked to get an early goal and really put the pressure on Bengaluru. However, the chances they created were pretty lacklustre and they didn’t come close to scoring. Then Toni Dovale put a little breathing space between the teams with a fantastic strike from twenty-five yards out. The ball fell to him and he allowed the ball to go across his body, struck it with his left boot and it flew into the right corner of the goal. 1-0 on the day, 4-2 on aggregate and the game looked a little easier for Bengaluru.
Toni definitely put his scoring boots on for this game as he popped up again on thirty-four minutes to calmly slot a close-range volley into the net. A long throw-in came in and was flicked on at the front post. Toni was the first to react and he calmly volleyed the ball in the back of the net to put Bengaluru 2-0 up, 5-2 on aggregate and the game was over.
Bengaluru weren’t done there as they completely dominated the game. They increased their lead to 3-0 with one of the best volleys I have seen in a long time. The ball was whipped into the box, TC Sports cleared it to Erik Paartalu, who was about forty yards out. He flicked the ball up, chested it and smashed a looping volley into the top corner and the keeper had no chance.
That ended the perfect first half for the hosts, Bengaluru. I think TC Sports were happy the whistle had gone but were unhappy that they still had another half of football to play. The score was 3-0 on the night and 6-2 on aggregate.
Bengaluru didn’t wait long to increase their lead in the second half as Toni became the first Bengaluru player to score a hattrick in an Asian competition on forty-eight minutes as he heading home a pinpoint cross from Udanta.
TC Sports at this point had given up on the game and just went out to play a little dirty. This reached its peak when Alaaeldin was given his marching orders and sent off for a horrendous tackle that left both men on the ground for a couple of minutes.
The game hit a quiet point after this and Bengaluru went on to have many more close chances to make the scoreline much bigger. They did end up making it 5-0 when Rahul Bheke smashed home from close range after a scramble in the middle of the box.
The game ended minutes later and Bengaluru had won 5-0 on the night, 8-2 on aggregate and booked themselves a place in Group E alongside Indian side Aizawl FC, Maldives side New Radiant and Abahani Dhaka of Bangladesh. Congratulations Bengaluru, you did the ISL proud.