Bengaluru FC staged one of the finest fightbacks to level from a two-goal deficit and salvage a draw against Kerala Blasters FC in an action-packed ISL clash on Wednesday.
Slavisa Stojanovic scored a penalty in the 16th-minute, followed by a super strike from Courage Pekuson. The two goals handed the visitors a two-goal lead going into the break. But just when it felt that Kerala Blasters would win their first match against Bengaluru FC the game changed. A classy header from Udanta Singh (69’) before another one from Sunil Chhetri (85’) helped the Blues grab a point.
The result sees Bengaluru extend their lead at the top the ISL table to four points. Kerala Blasters, on the other hand, will have to suffice with the ninth spot after remaining winless in 14 matches.
ISL 2018-19: Bengaluru FC vs Kerala Blasters FC
Kerala threatened from the start itself. The first breakthrough for them came in the 14th minute from an impressive run by Mohammad Rakip.
The young full-back then crossed from the right flank to hit Kean Lewis’ hand. The resultant penalty-kick was converted by Stojanovic to put his team in the lead.
Bengaluru, on the other hand, had few chances. In the 35th minute, Dimas Delgado passed Edmund Lalrindika into the box with a well-balanced through-ball. However, Sandesh Jhingan was quick to come across and sweep the ball off the striker’s feet.
Kerala’s constant attack again bore fruit in the 40th minute. It was Sahal Abdul Samad this time who split the Bengaluru backline with an outstanding pass towards Seiminlen Doungel.
Although the forward was denied space to have a go at the goal, he laid the ball to an onrushing Courage Person. The later belted an exceptional strike from outside the box right into the top corner of the net.
Having seen themselves down 2-0, the hosts upped the ante by playing more balls into the box.
Udanta Singh and Rahul Bheke crossed excellently from the right to release Chhetri. However, the skipper could only send his header off target on both occasions.
Chhetri then went close a few minutes later. This time it was Dimas Delgado who crossed the ball from the right. The Indian skipper’s consequent powerful first-time effort was denied by Kerala goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh with a good save. That kept Kerala’s two-goal lead intact, but not for too long.
Bengaluru finally gave themselves something to crave for after breaking open Kerala’s defence in the 69th minute. Erik Paartalu’s lofted ball was headed by Chhetri into the path of Udanta Singh. The latter then headed home.
The hosts then equalised with only five minutes left. Harmanjot Khabra backheeled the ball towards Udanta, who in turn crossed into the box from the right flank. Chhetri met the cross, beating Mohammad Rakip in the air with a powerful header.
Bengaluru would be upbeat by the impressive second-half comeback. Kerala Blasters, on the other hand, would be disheartened to not have won against the league toppers.