Cuttack: Bengaluru FC got their Federation Cup campaign off to a winning start but not without some drama as Albert Roca’s men beat Shillong Lajong 3-2 at the Barabati Stadium, in Cuttack, on Monday.
Goals from Udanta Singh (35′) and Eugeneson Lyngdoh (46′) seemed to put the Blues in control before they conceded two penalties, one of which was put away. But Sunil Chhetri forced an own goal from Aiborlang Khongjee (74’) to give Bengaluru some breathing space to get the job done.
The Blues came close in as early as the second minute when Sandesh Jhingan saw his thumping header from a Cameron Watson corner come off the crossbar and bounce inches outside the goal line before the Lajong defence dealt with danger. The chance set the tone for the half and it was all Bengaluru then on.
Harmanjot Khabra and Udanta Singh were fantastic to watch in tandem down the right, sending in crosses that unsettled the Lajong defence. Bengaluru should have shot to a lead in the 33rd minute when Chhetri put Udanta through on goal with a perfect pass. But in looking to chip an onrushing Vishal Kaith, the young winger skewed his shot wide.
However, he needed only two minutes to set things right. Picking a pass close to 25 yards from goal, Udanta’s rasping drive took a deflection off Nimdorjee Tamang before looping past Kaith to give Bengaluru a lead they thoroughly deserved, one which Roca’s men took to the dressing room at half-time.
Bengaluru didn’t wait long after the restart to get a second when Eugeneson Lyngdoh rose to nod home Khabra’s cross in the 46th minute. Bengaluru were dealt a blow moments later when John Johnson, who picked up a knock, had to be replaced by Salam Ranjan Singh. Johnson’s withdrawal was followed by the introduction of Lenny Rodrigues in place of Cameron Watson, who had picked up a yellow for a foul in midfield.
Lyngdoh came close to scoring his second of the night as his swipe from distance produced a fine save from Kaith on the hour mark. Lajong had a chance to reduce the deficit when a handball from Jhingan prompted the referee to point to the spot but Asier Pierrick Dipanda’s effort from 12 yards was miscued.
Lajong made amends just moments later when a pass from midfield sent Kinowaki through on goal. The Japanese midfielder made no mistake as his deft lob beat Ralte to make it 2-1. The Blues though, had their two-goal cushion restored in the 74th minute when a cross from Chhetri found an off-balance Aiborlang Khongjee whose clearance went straight into the Lajong goal.
Lajong had a second penalty awarded in the 85th minute when a moment of hesitation from Ranjan caused the Blues’ centre-back to bring down Samuel Lalmuanpuia. The Lajong striker took over spot-kick duties and sent Ralte the wrong way to make it 3-2.
The introduction of Cornell Glen in place of Daniel added steel to the Blues’ attack as they pressed on for a fourth and shut down Lajong’s forays into the Bengaluru area.
Earlier, Roca rolled out a 3-4-2-1 with Daniel in attack while new signing Glen was named on the bench. First choice goalkeeper Amrinder Singh missed the game owing to a bout of fever as Ralte replaced him in the Blues’ goal.
Bengaluru next face DSK Shivajians at the same venue, on Wednesday, at 4 pm.