Bengaluru steals a point at the death against 10-men Mohammedan

Bengaluru finished second in Group A after their draw against Mohammedan

Sivasakthi Narayanan’s strike in the injury time of the second half helped Bengaluru steal a point against last year’s runners-up Mohammedan in their Group A encounter of the Durand Cup 2022 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Friday. 

Pritam Singh had scored a goal for the Black Panthers in the first half to give the home side the lead as the match ended in a 1-1 draw. 

Bengaluru coach Simon Grayson continued shuffling his side as only Hira Mondal and captain Sunil Chhetri managed to retain their spots from their 2-2 draw against Goa. Lara Sharma started from under the sticks and was aided by Sandesh Jhingan, Milan Jovanovic, and Mondal in the back. Faisal Ali and Prabir Das played as the wing backs while the trio of Javi Hernandez, Jayesh Rane, and Suresh Wangjam dictated the terms in midfield. Roy Krishna partnered with Sunil Chhetri upfront to share the striking responsibilities. 

Mohammedan stuck to their 4-2-3-1 formation but made three changes this time. Zothanmawia replaced Sankar Roy under the sticks while Shaher Shaheen took the place of Sairuatkima at the heart of the defense. He was aided by Ousmane N’Diaye, Abhishek Ambekar, and Vanlalzuidika in the back. 

Abhishek Halder replaced Nuriddin Davronov in the midfield to accompany Abhash Thapa. Sheikh Faiaz, Marcus Joseph, and Pritam Singh played a line ahead of them while Faslu Rahman played as the lone striker. 

The first chance of the game fell to Mohammedan in the 13th minute and they made it count to break the deadlock. Abhash Thapa made a darting run from the left flank before cutting a low cross towards the middle of the box where Sheikh Faiaz connected with a first-time shot. 

Bengaluru custodian Lara Sharma parried the ball away but the rebound fell kindly towards Pritam Singh, who made no mistake in sticking his boot out and slotting the ball home. 

Bengaluru tried to make their way back as Mohammedan players Vanlalzuidika and Pritam Singh went into the book. Roy Krishna got a golden opportunity to level the proceedings in the 38th minute when he found himself at the end of a low cross from Hira Mondal, but the Fijian’s attempt was wayward. Two minutes later, his strike partner Sunil Chhetri skewed his volley as Mohammedan went into the break with a one-goal lead. 

Bengaluru made their intentions clear in the 47th minute when Prabir Das let loose a scorching strike from 30 yards out only for Mohammedan goalkeeper Zothanmawia to parry it out of bounds. Abhishek Halder lobbed a looping shot after seeing the opposition goalkeeper come out of his line but Lara tracked back in time to thwart his efforts in the 60th minute. 

Faisal Ali galloped through the left flank and swung a low cross for an unmarked Sunil Chhetri. The captain took his own time to control the ball before taking a shot, but it was blocked by the Mohammedan goalkeeper. 

Abhishek Halder, who was already on a yellow card, received the marching orders in the 72nd minute after bringing down Faisal Ali. Playing with ten men, Mohammedan went completely defensive as Bengaluru continued their attack with more intensity. 

Just when it seemed Mohammedan had done enough to avert the danger, Bengaluru equalized on a follow-through of a corner kick in the 91st minute. 

Namgyal Bhutia whipped in a swinging corner kick which was deflected out of the box by Milan Jovanovic. The rebound fell towards an onrushing Prabir Das who unleashed a piledriver from outside the box. 

Although his effort was off target, substitute Sivasakthi Narayanan pounced on the loose ball to hit the top of the woodwork. After some initial confusion, the referee deemed the ball to have crossed the goal-line before coming back to play, much to the dismay of Mohammedan players.  

The home fans resorted to hurling objects into the field as play got extended for ten minutes. However, both Mohammedan and Bengaluru failed to add on to their tally as the full-time scoreline read 1-1. 

Bengaluru finished second in Group A and would lock horns with Odisha in the quarter-finals. At the same time, Mohammedan would square off against Kerala Blasters for a spot in the semi-finals.