Bengaluru FC bowed out of the reckoning in the group stages of the 2021 AFC Cup with a goalless draw against Bangladeshs Bashundhara Kings, at the National Stadium here, on Saturday.
The result meant Bengaluru stayed third in Group D with one point, while Bashundhara climbed to the top with four points, ahead of ATK Mohun Bagan’s late clash against Maziya S&RC.
With Bengaluru FC needing a win to maintain their hopes of qualifying for the next stage. chief coach Marco Pezzaiuoli made three changes to the team that lost to ATK Mohun Bagan, with Parag Shrivas, Danish Farooq and Bidyashagar Singh replacing Sarthak Golui, Ajay Chhetri and Udanta Singh.
At the other end, Oscar Bruzon fielded a Bashundhara side that remained unchanged from their 2-0 win over Maziya.
In a game of two halves, Bashundhara held the upper hand in the first period and created some good chances. Bengaluru, who had their chances in the first period, dominated the second half but could not score despite coming close on a number of occasions. Sunil Chhetri, Cleiton Silva and Yayesh Rane came close as they managed to rattle the woodwork a couple of times and were also thwarted by the rival defence on other occasions.
The Blues started the game on the front foot, and the first good chance came with just five minutes on the clock when Danish picked out picked out Bidyashagar, on the run, with a nice lob but the youngster’s shot from the edge of the box was blocked by Bashundhara skipper Topu Barman. Jayesh Rane’s effort from the rebound rolled wide.
Bashundhara won a free-kick at the edge of the box in the 15th minute after Danish tripped Barman, but Suresh intercepted Robinho’s pass and made sure the set piece came to nothing. Naorem Roshan Singh’s long diagonal in the 21st minute found Cleiton Silva, but the Brazilian’s attempted give and go with Bidyashagar found the winger crowded out by the Bashundhara defence. From that move, the Bangladesh side went on a counter-attack that forced Musavu-King into a tackle that saw him pick up the game’s first yellow card.
Three minutes later, Sliva’s ball into the box was met by a diving Yrondu Musavu-King, whose header was straight into Bashundhara ‘keeper Anisur Rahman’s gloves. At the other end, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu did well to get his palms to Jonathan Reis’ effort from well outside the box, to push away Bashundhara’s hopes of a first half goal.
The Bashundhara came close to taking the lead in the 57th minute through Brazilian winger Robinho, whose effort deflected off Gurpreet’s foot and was sailing goalward until Roshan cleared with an acrobatic effort. The ball almost spun back in before Gurpreet pushed away with an outstretched arm.
Attacking with intent, the Blues came close on several occasions in the closing stages
Bengaluru will be back in action on August 24, at the same venue, when they take on Maziya S&RC in their final Group D game.