Tag: Rahul Bheke

ISL 5: Bheke strike hands Bengaluru 2-1 win over Pune

Bengaluru: It was the late, late show once again as Bengaluru FC became the first Indian Super League side to win six games in a row, beating FC Pune City 2-1 at the Fortress in what was a clash for the stands, at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Friday. Udanta Singh’s stunning opener (11′) was levelled with a Rahul Bheke own goal (15′) before the defender redeemed himself with a late strike (88’), his second in three games, to give Carles Cuadrat all three points.

Otherwise cautious starters, Bengaluru seemed in the mood from the get-go and Udanta chose an absolute stunner in the 11th minute for his second goal in as many games. Picking a pass from Harmajot Khabra, Udanta charged into the Pune box, sold Chhuantea a dummy and after sending his former teammate the wrong way, smashed the ball into the roof with his left.

Bengaluru could have gone two up a couple of minutes later when Chencho Gyeltshen’s goal-bound shot took deflections from defender Matt Mills and then goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh before going out for a corner.

But it took all of four minutes after conceding for Pune to get back on level terms, albeit with a little help from a Bengaluru shirt after Rahul Bheke turned a Marko Stankovic cross into his own goal at the near post.

Earlier, Bengaluru started with Rahul Bheke and Harmanjot Khabra in defensive positions with Albert Serran ruled out, having sustained a thigh injury in the previous clash against Delhi Dynamos. Midfielder Dimas Delgado returned to the starting eleven after serving his one-game suspension, in a midfield trio that included him, Xisco Hernandez and Erik Paartalu.

The unfortunate equaliser did nothing but spur Bengaluru to attack with even more gusto and how the half ended 1-1 will still take some explaining from the Blues. Bengaluru could have well scored the team goal of the season when Erik Paartalu’s overhead clearance in the Blues box sparked a swift counter that saw Udanta, Dimas, Xisco and Chencho play their part in getting the ball to Chhetri only to see the captain’s shot on target kept out by Kamaljit. This was before an unmarked Chencho sent a looping header over the bar from ten yards out.

With the ball refusing to roll in from close, Bengaluru decided to try from distance when Chhetri laid the ball off for Erik Paartalu to smash from twenty five yards out in the 45th minute. The hit flew fast and hard only come crashing off the crossbar, capping off a frustrating half for the home side.

Cuadrat brought on Semboi Haokip for Chencho a little over the hour mark, but Bengaluru’s luck refused to alter. With twenty minutes to play, Udanta found himself with the ball in the box, skipped past his man and fired against the angle of the post once again. But, with the minutes ticking out, the stands came alive once again, spurring the Blues into a flurry of attacks.

After shots from Chhetri and Xisco had been blocked, Nishu picked up a clearance from a corner before lobbing it deep into the area for Khabra, who acrobatically volleyed over Kamaljit and his defenders to find Bheke unmarked. The defender would make no mistake from two yards out, slotting home to give Bengaluru a lead they would protect until the very end.

The win sent Bengaluru five points clear at the top, despite playing a game lesser than second placed FC Goa. The Blues travel to Guwahati next, where they take on NorthEast United on December 5th.

AFC Cup 2018: All or nothing as Bengaluru look to turn tide against Altyn Asyr

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan: Carles Cuadrat’s Bengaluru FC are confident of climbing the proverbial mountain when they take on Altyn Asyr at the Kopetdag Stadium, on Wednesday, for a spot in the Inter-Zone final of the AFC Cup. Having suffered a 3-2 defeat at home, the Blues will need to win by a two-goal margin in the capital in what could be a comeback for the ages.

Though Cuadrat admitted that conceding three goals at home was far from the ideal scenario going into a second leg, he was confident that the late fightback at the Kanteerava has given his side belief and a chance against tough opponents. “Altyn Asyr is a good team who have been doing well in this competition. When they came to Bengaluru, they were in the middle of their league commitments and you could tell by how fit they were. They took advantage of the options they had in front of our goal. It was a bit of a shock to go down by three goals at home but we slowly took control of things in the second half and we had enough chances to put them in trouble. We have two goals that make us believe we have a shot at going ahead in this competition,” said the Spaniard while addressing the media on Tuesday.

The team from Turkmenistan didn’t have much of the ball in the first leg, but they made their reliance on the counter attack matter, with clinical finishing. Cuadrat said the early goals were a tad bit disappointing because they knew how the visitors would tackle the tie. “When you’re down a goal at home you want to get right back into it and that’s where we conceded another one on the counter attack. We have been watching Altyn Asyr’s games in the AFC Cup and we know they don’t really have a lot of possession during the game. Most games they usually have around 45 percent possession. They know they must defend well and punish the other teams on the counter. So, it wasn’t a surprise.”

The Blues will do well to be wary of the threat that the hosts possess through Altymyrat Annadurdyyew and Wahyt Orazsahedow, both of who were on target in Bengaluru. Winger Myrat Yagsyyew, who had to be substituted early in the game owing to a groin injury, remains a doubtful starter for the fixture.

The biggest positive that Bengaluru FC can take from the defeat and into the second leg is the attitude they displayed even after conceding three goals. The attack switched gears in the second half and had Altyn Asyr defending in numbers. The Blues were left feeling hard done-by after two stonewall penalty decisions were waived away by the referee. But goals from Rahul Bheke and Erik Paartalu were justice to the kind of turnaround they orchestrated.

Harmanjot Khabra, who missed the game with illness, has made the trip to Turkmenistan and it needs to be seen if he will have a part to play on Wednesday. Cuadrat also hinted at a possible rejig in the way he approaches the game and the team he rolls out. “We weren’t happy with the way things went in the first game and we would like to fix that. If it means us having to change and reshuffle, we will. In the end, we don’t have an option but to keep trying things that can keep us alive in the competition,” he said.

The winner of the tie will go on to face North Korean side 4.25 SC in the Inter-Zone final after they cruised past Singapore’s Home United FC 11-1 on aggregate in the other semifinal clash.

The game kicks off at 5 pm IST.

AFC Cup 2018: Brave Bengaluru take the fight to Turkmenistan

Bengaluru: What seemed like a tie that was done and dusted sprang back to life after Bengaluru produced an inspired second-half comeback against Turkmenistan side Altyn Asyr in the first leg of the AFC Cup Inter-Zone semifinal at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Wednesday. The Blues conceded three goals, before scoring two of their own to take a 2-3 result to Ashgabat for the second leg, set to be played in seven days’ time.

With an ill Harmanjot Khabra having to sit out of the game, Cuadrat started with Rino Anto at the right-back position while Xisco Hernandez made his Bengaluru debut, playing in the middle.

The visitors couldn’t have asked for a better start away from home when Vahyt beat the last line of defence and rose to nod home Nurmyradov Selim’s cross from the right in the 11th minute.

The Blues looked almost certain of squaring things up in the 15th minute when Chhetri was picked with a precise cross from Miku. The skipper measured the flight and picked his spot with a calm header only for ’Orazmuhamedov Mamed to clear the ball with an outstretched left foot.

Just when Bengaluru looked like getting back into the game, Altyn Asyr got a second through Altymyrat in the 24th minute. The leading scorer of the Turkmenistan side’s AFC Cup campaign, Altymyrat managed to sneak in a low but powerful hit past Sandhu at the near post.

Not allowing the deficit to kill their resolve of a fightback, Bengaluru gave the Altyn Asyr defence an edgy last ten minutes in the first half where Miku, Chhetri and Nishu had chances stuffed out by desperate blue shirts in the box.

Things slipped further for Bengaluru soon after the second half began when Vahyt got his second and Altyn Asyr’s third goal of the night. Sandhu had an uncharacteristically weak moment allowing Vahyt’s to roll past from under him.

With little to lose, Bengaluru kept plugging away as Udanta Sigh made life difficult for Altyn Asyr’s men on the left. The visitors seemed happy to sit back and defend in numbers as Bengaluru moved the ball all around, prodding for an opening. The Blues finally got one back in the 63rd minute when Bheke smashed home from in the box. Chhetri’s header from Udanta’s cross smashed the post only to bounce back to Bheke who wouldn’t miss.

The goal breathed fresh life into Bengaluru’s charge as they got into a rhythm that Altyn Asyr found tough to handle. The defending was frenetic at best but just enough to keep Miku, Udanta and a host of white shirts at bay.

Bengaluru were left feeling hard done when they thought they had two shouts for what looked like legitimate penalties, turned down by referee Iida Jumpei. But the Blues piled on the pressure, finding a second through Erik Paartalu. With Xisco’s initial cross headed out of the Altyn box, Udanta picked up the pieces and swung in a second that was nodded home by the Aussie.

The Blues fly to Ashgabat, where they will take on the Turkmenistan champions on August 29th, at the Kopetdag Stadium.

AFC Cup: Bengaluru bow out after draw with FC Istiklol

 

BENGALURU: A ten-man Bengaluru FC saw their dreams of a consecutive AFC Cup final come crashing down when Albert Roca’s, who needed to win by a two-goal margin, ended things at 2-2 with FC Istiklol (3-2 on aggregate) on a night at the Kanteerava marred by dubious refereeing decisions.

The Blues went behind in the 4th minute to a decision of a penalty that never was after replays showed no contact between ’keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Fathuloev Fathullo. The hosts then pulled one back when Rahul Bheke headed home his first goal (24’) for the Blues. In what was a massive blow to the comeback effort, defender Harmanjot Khabra picked up a second booking just before half-time, reducing Bengaluru to ten-men.

Istiklol’s second, scored by Dmitrii Barkov (56’) had a hint of off-side but the Blues’ pleas fell to deaf ears. Bengaluru then won a penalty of their own that skipper Sunil Chhetri converted in the 65th minute. But it wasn’t to be a magical night that the Fortress hoped it would be as Istiklol weathered a brave Bengaluru charge.

Albert Roca made two changes to the starting XI with striker Daniel Lalhlimpuia and defender Harmanjot Khabra replacing Antonio Dovale and Collin Abranches from the team that took the pitch in Dushanbe.

Needing a win by a two-goal margin to progress, Bengaluru got off to a horror start when Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was penalized by referee Khamis Al-Marri for an apparent foul on Fathullo, to point to the spot in the 2nd minute. However, replays clearly showed a blatant dive from the Istiklol skipper with all protests waived off. Sandhu, who had kept a penalty out in North Korea, was beaten this time by Davronov Nuriddin as the Tajik side went up 1-0.

Backed by a vociferous home support, the Blues went on an onslaught with the skipper pulling the strings from the left. First, he cut in from the left and hammered a low shot which was kept out by Istiklol ’keeper Nicola Stosic in the 6th minute before he sent a perfect through ball to Dimas down the middle which the Spaniard couldn’t capitalize on. Moments later, the skipper dribbled past three defenders from the left before once again being denied by the rival custodian.

Midway through the half, Daniel capitalized on a miss-pass by David Mawutor and fired a grounder which was cleared for a corner by the Stosic.

But given the pressure the Blues were piling on, an equaliser was always in the coming. A corner played short saw Udanta send a cross in the box that Bheke nodded home to make it 1-1 in the 24th minute. Bengaluru almost took the lead in the game at the half hour mark, only for Chhetri to be denied by the crossbar after a good move saw him gain possession in the rival box.

The Blues kept the pressure on, creating chance after chance as Istiklol were restricted to a few counter attacks. Meanwhile, Bengaluru’s task was made even harder in the 42nd minute when defender Harmanjot Khabra was given his marching orders by the referee for a second bookable offense after he brought down Dzhalilov Manuchher. The first half ended with the score locked at 1-1.

Needing two more goals to make it through, Bengaluru began pushing up right from the word go despite being a man down. Eight minutes in, Roca made the first change, throwing in attacker Antonio Dovale in place of midfielder Lenny Rodrigues.
The Blues were dealt another blow in the 56th minute when Dmitrii Barkov tapped in from close range breaking the offside trap to put Istiklol 2-1 up on the night.

Bengaluru went close to levelling the scores once again, when Udanta ran clear down the right before cutting in and floating a left-footed cross in the box to Daniel. The striker’s flick on landed for Chhetri at the far post but his effort was saved by the keeper.

Minutes later, Bengaluru FC did pull level when the referee penalized Oleksandr Stetsenko for bringing down Daniel in the box after Dovale had played him through. Chhetri stepped up and made no mistake from the spot to make it 2-2 in the 65th minute.
With the visitors opting for time wasting tactics, the supporters in the stands were making their frustration known along with the Blues’ bench. Into the final quarter, Roca made two more changes bringing in Alwyn George and Boithang Haokip in place of Daniel and Nishu Kumar.

The Blues continued to put bodies up front creating chances, but were falling short in the rival box. Into the final ten minutes, Bengaluru FC created a few close chances from set pieces, but once again Istiklol managed to somehow block the attempts as the game ended 2-2.

AFC Cup: Bengaluru seal 3-0 aggregate win over 4.25 SC

 

Pyongyang, DPR Korea: Bengaluru FC kept their calm to hold on to a three-goal lead from the first leg to seal an aggregate win (3-0) after a goalless draw against 4.25 SC, at the May Day Stadium, in Pyongyang, on Wednesday. The result secures a place for the Blues in the Inter-zone final of the 2017 AFC Cup, where they are set to face Tajik side FC Istiklol in a two-legged affair.

While the game lacked goals, it was custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who impressed with some brilliant work under the bar for the Blues. The Punjabi-lad pulled off a crucial second half penalty save, as Albert Roca’s side extended their clean-sheet streak to three games in the competition, the longest in four years.

Going into the second leg, Roca opted to field an unchanged XI from the first leg with skipper Sunil Chhetri, Antonio Dovale and Udanta Singh leading the front line while Spaniard Dimas Delgado marshalled midfield.

The game, played on the artificial turf of the massive May Day Stadium, was a contrast to the first leg, where the Blues had dominated proceedings for majority of the night. In Pyongyang, Bengaluru were edged out in terms of possession and chances, but made up for with a stubborn defense as Gurpreet, Juanan Gonzalez, Rahul Bheke, Harmanjot Khabra and Nishu Kumar, who was later replaced by Subhasish Bose kept the 4.25 SC attack at bay.

While the first half saw Bengaluru create a few half chances, most notably through Toni Dovale, the hosts managed to control the game. With a sizeable turnout egging for the home side to attack, the Blues did well to arrive at the break with the scores unchanged.

Bengaluru were forced to sit deep and defend in the second half as tournament top-scorer Kim Yu Song almost gave 4.25 SC the lead in the 57th minute with a header, but it was Gurpreet once again who denied the striker. As the game progressed, Hwang Yong Song’s side continued to attack and substitute An Il-Bom who came on in the 61st minute, forced the Blues custodian into another brilliant diving save in the 70th.

The hosts continued to mount persistent attacks on the Blues’ back-line, passing the ball well while switching play efficiently to keep the pressure on. For Bengaluru, it was Man-of-the-Match Gurpreet who did well to command his defenders and the rest of the team, who dropped deep to help thwart the Korean side’s attack.

Into the final quarter of the game, 4.25 had the best chance to break the deadlock as Rahul Bheke brought down Bom inside the box in the 77th minute, prompting referee Wang Di to point to the spot. However, Gurpreet dived to his right denying midfielder Ri Hyong Jin’s effort from 12 yards.

The pressure culminated into another chance in the dying moments of the game, as midfielder Won Song hit the crossbar with an effort from 20-yards out but it wasn’t to be for the home side.

“They dominated majority of the game and deserved to win. But at the same time, we defended very well as a team and managed to hold on to our lead from the first leg. We are happy to have made it through and now look to get back to Bengaluru and prepare for the big game against FC Istiklol,” Roca said, speaking at the post-match press conference.

For their part, the Blues had to overcome numerous hurdles to get through – some on field, some off of it. While their travel plans were initially delayed due to Foundation Day Celebrations in DPR Korea, part of the luggage went missing in transit when they finally made it through to Pyongyang on Monday. With 15 bags of kits and equipment arriving just a day before the game, the Blues had to train in makeshift gear on the eve of the clash.

Up next in the Inter-zone final for Bengaluru FC will be Dushanbe-based Tajikistan side FC Istiklol who overcame Philippines’ Ceres Negros FC 5-1 (agg.) in the other two-legged Inter-zone semifinal. The first leg will be played away on September 27th, while the return leg at the Kanteerava Stadium is scheduled for October 18th.

AFC Cup: Bengaluru dance in the rain, blank 4.25 SC 3-0

 

Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC showed absolutely no signs of rust or lack of time to prepare as Albert Roca’s side turned on the style to beat North Korean side 4.25 SC 3-0 and take a big step towards the Inter-zone final on a rain-soaked night at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Wednesday.

Goals on either side of the break by skipper Sunil Chhetri (32nd minute, Penalty) and Udanta Singh (51st) put the Blues 2-0 up before Lenny Rodrigues joined the party with a goal in the 77th minute to give the Blues a massive advantage ahead of the away leg on September 13 in Pyongyang.

Head Coach Albert Roca handed debuts to five new signings with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Rahul Bheke, Dimas Delgado, Erik Paartalu and Antonio Dovale all featuring in the starting XI.

The Blues went on attack mode right from the word go as Udanta intercepted a pass in the rival half and attempted a shot in the first minute itself which was saved by the 4.25 SC custodian. Thereafter, visitors 4.25 SC had a spell of possession where they tried to make inroads into the Blues’ box, only to be thwarted by Roca’s boys.

Having had half-chances for most part of the first half, an intelligent move around the half-hour mark opened up the rival defence and handed Bengaluru their first goal. Juanan with a long diagonal ball found Harmanjot Khabra on the flank who headed it into box for Udanta whose pace was too much for the rival keeper to handle as he brought the youngster down. Chhetri then coolly chipped in the resultant penalty kick for his third goal of the competition to hand the Blues a 1-0 l ead.                                         

Bengaluru continued to push up and almost doubled their lead three minutes from the break. Chhetri timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap on a lobbed pass inside the box. The skipper controlled the ball and tried to chip an onrushing keeper who got a deft touch to divert it for a corner. The half ended with Bengaluru firmly in charge and a goal up.

The Blues got off to the perfect start in the second half doubling their lead six minutes in. Udanta, once again, intelligently intercepted a pass on the right before running solo and making no mistake to slot home past Ri Kang in the rival goal.

The visitors created a few chances of their own, but the Blues’ backline led by ’keeper Gurpreet held firm under the torrential downpour. Midway through the half, Lenny almost pulled off a blinder. His pile driver from 30-yards out was headed for the roof of the goal, only for the keeper to palm it over.

With incessant rain pouring down, both sides were finding it difficult to control the game; however, the Blues adjusted to the water-logged pitch much better which translated into another goal. A quick release by Dovale down the left saw Chhetri run clear and float in a delightful cross to Lenny, who timed his run well at the far post to slide the ball home and seal the game.

Substitute Daniel Lalhlimpuia had a chance late on to get his name on the scoresheet, but he somehow scuffed his shot wide from inside the box as the game ended 3-0.