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I-League: Defending champions Bengaluru FC held by lowly Minerva Punjab

I-League: Defending champions Bengaluru FC held by lowly Minerva Punjab
Courtesy: Twitter (@ILeagueOfficial)

Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC dropped their first points at home this season after a fortuitous goal allowed Minerva Punjab FC claim a point with a 1-1 draw at the Kanteerava Stadium here on Saturday.

The point leaves the Blues on fifth position with 11 points from seven games. Sunil Chhetri's fourth goal in as many games seemed like doing the job for Bengaluru, before a harmless looking cross from Kamalpreet Singh looped into the BFC goal after a heavy deflection off Sandesh Jhingan.

With the regular centre-back pairing of John Johnson and Juan Gonzalez serving a suspension, Roca started the game with Salam Ranjan Singh and Jhingan who made a return from injury.

In a first half that was completely dominated by the Blues, Chhetri saw an attempt come off the crossbar from a set-piece routine in the 33rd minute as Minerva threw legs in the box to deal with the ricochet. Despite all the dominance by Bengaluru, Minerva managed to see the half through without conceding.

But Chhetri got his goal and Bengaluru, a much-deserved lead in the 53rd minute. Udanta Singh, after losing his marker with the kind of skill he brings to the table, sent in a cross that was headed away by the Minerva defence only to fall at the feet of Chhetri. The No.11's strike was placed perfectly beyond the reach of keeper Arnab Das Sarma to make it 1-0.

Buoyed by a lead, Bengaluru attacked with even more intent and came close soon after. Harmanjot Khabra saw a shot from a tight angle fly over and Eugeneson Lyngdoh should have buried a header from an Udanta cross as Bengaluru kept hunting for a second.

Udanta, who was having a flawless game on the right, slid in the perfect pass only for Vineeth's slide to miss the ball by inches. The winger then had a chance of his own after being picked by a long diagonal pass from Chhetri. Udanta, chased the ball down, beat Arashpreet but put too much on his shot that flew over from an angle.

But the Bengaluru defence, that had kept things clean and flawless at the back for 78 minutes, caved in and rather cruelly. A harmless looking cross from Kamalpreet Singh seemed to have caught Jhingan's foot and looped over a frozen and wrong-footed Amrinder Singh to make it 1-1.

Bengaluru, chasing the win, came agonisingly close to finding an equaliser on five occasions but it wasn't to be as shots from Udanta, Mandar Rao Dessai and Chhetri would only sail high or be blocked away.

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