Bengaluru FC made it two injury-time winners out of two as substitute Marjan Jugovic’s header in the 94th minute gave the Blues three points with a 1-0 win over Aizawl FC at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Sunday. The Blues put on a brave show throughout but were stopped by stubborn defending as Aizawl held on but for the final minute of the match.
In what was to be the last chance of the game, a free-kick awarded to the Blues at the edge of the box saw the skipper deliver an inch-perfect lob for Jugovic who picked the right moment to score his first in a Blue shirt, heading home past a hapless Albino in the Aizawl goal.
Though out of contention to retain the title, Albert Roca, in his pre-match press conference, stressed he wouldn’t be prioritizing tournaments and the Spaniard’s team selection reflected his stance. Sunil Chhetri started alongside Udanta Singh and Daniel Lalhlimpuia while Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who along with the skipper sat out of the game against Mohun Bagan, was named in the starting XI. With injury and suspension ruling out Sandesh Jhingan and Harmanjot Khabra respectively, Roca deployed Juan Gonzalez and Nishu Kumar as wing-backs, leaving Salam Ranjan to partner John Johnson at the centre.
Often accused of being slow starters, Bengaluru FC had the Aizawl defence sweating right from the get-go. Sunil Chhetri saw his header from corner, come off the far post in the 5th minute before Daniel drew a good save from Albino Gomes in the 22nd. The visitors had were all at sea with Bengaluru’s training ground variations of set-pieces as Juan Gonzalez saw his strike somehow dealt with by Aizawl’s defence.
The Blues however, lots a little momentum when Udanta Singh had to be substituted as early as the 25th minute when he hurt his ankle after taking a fall from a Kingsley Eze shove. The winger turned to the Blues bench indicating he couldn’t continue and Roca brought on Alwyn George as a replacement.
Aizawl’s best chance came in the 44th minute when Ashutosh Mehta’s strike came off the post with Amrinder Singh completely beaten.
Roca dabbled with his second change on the hour mark, bringing on Marjan Jugovic for Lyngdoh, in search for a goal. And just two minutes later the Blues were denied a shot at the opener when referee Venkatesh R chose to overlook a genuine appeal for a penalty after Johnson was brought down in the box during a Bengaluru free kick.
Roca’s side had an agonizing final ten minutes, coming close on as many as three occasions. The Bengaluru skipper almost found the net in the 85th minute when he lost his marker and shot only to see the ball zip wide of Albino’s goal. Only two minutes later, Chhetri exchanged a fantastic one-two with Juan but saw his cross from inside the box, cut out by Albino with a lot of disappointed blue shirts waiting at the other end. But Jugovic played super-sub to perfection as the Blues walked away with smiles and all three points.