ISL 5: Bengaluru, Mumbai share spoils at the Fortress

Bengaluru: An Udanta Singh header was cancelled out by a Modou Sougou strike at the other end as Carles Cuadrat’s Bengaluru FC were held to a 1-1 draw by Mumbai City FC, in an Indian Super League clash at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Sunday. The result kept the Blues atop the Indian Super League table, three points clear of the Islanders, who have played a game more.

Bengaluru, turning out in a familiar 4-3-3, caught the Mumbai defence off-guard in the 6th minute when Sunil Chhetri put Udanta Singh through after picking a pass from Albert Serran. But the winger’s attempt to slot home with his left and beyond Amrinder Singh, rolled wide.

But Udanta made amends with a finish of physical and technical brilliance, in the 23rd minute. A move in the middle saw the ball being played out wide to Rahul Bheke who delivered a cross with the right amount of curl, in the Mumbai box. Udanta, marked by Lucian Goian, out-jumped the taller man and glanced a header in at the far post to make it 1-0.

Mumbai, soaking in most of the pressure till that goal, got back in the game through a Modou Sougou finish in the 31st minute. The Senegalese striker sneaked between Nishu Kumar and Albert Serran to meet Arnold Issoko’s chip with a header that he stooped low to get to before sending it past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

Cuadrat started the second half with what looked like a 4-2-3-1 with Xisco Hernandez – coming on for Chencho – was joined by Udanta and Nishu Kumar on the wings, while Chhetri moved ahead in attack. The reshuffle meant Harmanjot Khabra moved to the right-back position.

The game tipped in favour of the Blues numerically when Sehnaj Singh was sent off in the 51st minute after adding a second yellow to the one he had picked up in the first half. Sensing the need to attack, Cuadrat’s second change had Nishu come off for Semboi Haokip, who traded positions with Chhetri down the center.

Xisco came close to getting his first goal in a Bengaluru shirt only to see his take on target palmed away by Amrinder for a corner in the 73rd minute. Dimas Delgado’s set-piece was met by an Erik Paartalu header only to bounce off the crossbar and out of play. The Blues laid siege to the Mumbai box, forcing the visitors to concede a flurry of corners that they unfortunately, couldn’t make count. Cuadrat’s last change of the night saw Kean Lewis come on for Khabra as Bengaluru began the fight against the clock. Chhetri then had the chance to put his side ahead from a freekick in a dangerous position. But the captain, who usually sends the ball home from range, hit it straight at Amrinder who parried away.

Piling the pressure, Bengaluru had Mumbai caved in their half for most of the closing stages as the visitors looked to push up on the counter. Dimas’ floated pass into the area was volleyed over by Semboi, in what would be their best chance to win the game.

Bengaluru next face ATK at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Thursday, December 13th, in their final clash of the year.

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