Kolkata, Feb 3 (IANS) Ten-man Bengaluru FC consolidated their place at the top of the table by inflicting a 2-0 defeat on reigning champions ATK, who saw their chances of making the playoffs virtually go up in smoke, in an Indian Super League (ISL) encounter at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Saturday.
Jordi Montel Figueras (3rd) scored an own goal in the first half with Venezuelan striker Miku (83rd) extending the lead in the second to help the Blues (27 points from 13 games) go four points clear of second-placed Chennaiyin FC who are on 23 points from 12 games. Bengaluru now have five wins from their last seven matches.
Meanwhile, succumbing to their fourth successive reversal, ATK remained rooted to eighth spot with just 12 points to show from 13 outings.
ATK got off to the worst possible start as Figueras put the ball into his own net trying to clear a cross inside the box after Edu Garcia found Udanta Singh on the right flank.
It was all downhill for the home team thereafter as Bengaluru toyed around with ATK passing the ball around with relative ease.
In the 17th minute, home team keeper Debjit Majumdar was forced into a good save from a Edu swipe. A minute later, Ryan Taylor’s free kick at the other end was punched clear by birthday boy Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
ATK got a golden opportunity to pull one back three minutes into the half hour mark when Jayesh Rane met a Bipin Singh cross but the ball came off the far post. Rane tried to bury the ball on the rebound but visiting fullback Rahul Bheke slid in to avert the danger.
Bheke was the saviour for Bengaluru early in the second half as well, intercepting a Martin Paterson dummy for Rane expertly.
Ten minutes into the second period, fit-again Robbie Keane came on for Rupert Nongrum as ATK looked to get back on level terms.
Keane was straightaway into the act, feeding Paterson whose shot was saved well by Gurpreet.
Bengaluru suffered a body blow when the impressive Bheke was sent off after picking up a second booking. With 20 minutes still to go, the Ashley Westwood-coached side suddenly sensed an advantage but it was the visitors who doubled their lead.
Miku ran 35 yards after picking up the ball from Erik Paartalu to beat Figueras for pace and and slot the ball into the bottom right corner to bring up his tenth goal of the campaign and stay firmly behind league’s top scorer Ferran Corominas (12 goals) of FC Goa.