Man, 21 August (IANS) Bengaluru FC bowed out of the group stage of the AFC Cup 2021 with a goalless draw against Bangladesh’s Bashundhara Kings at the National Stadium this Saturday.
The result meant Bengaluru finished third in Group D with one point, while Bashundhara climbed to the top with four points, ahead of ATK Mohun Bagan’s late showdown against Maziya S&RC.
With Bengaluru FC needing a win to maintain their hopes of qualifying for the next stage. head 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 lined up with a Bashundhara team 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 being close several times. Sunil Chhetri, Cleiton Silva and Yayesh Rane came close as they managed to rattle the woodwork a few times and were also thwarted by the rival defense on other occasions.
The Blues started the match on the forefoot, and the first good chance came with only five minutes on the clock, when the Danish picked out picked Bidyashagar, on the run, with a nice lob, but the youngster’s shot from the edge of the field was blocked by Bashundhara skipper Topu Barman. Jayesh Rane’s effort from the return rolled wide.
Bashundhara won a free kick on the edge of the box in the 15th minute after the Danish had tripped Barman, but Suresh intercepted Robinho’s pass and made sure the set piece turned into something. Cleoron Silva’s Naorem Roshan Singh saw his fine effort strike the top of the bar following some good work up the middle by his teammates after 21 minutes. By now, the players in Bangladesh felt that victory was guaranteed and began to play it safe, focusing on defense and not risking too much going forward.
Three minutes later, Sliva’s ball in the box was hit by a diving Yrondu Musavu-King, whose header was straight into Bashundhara’s goalkeeper Anisur Rahman’s gloves. At the other end, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu did well to get the palms of Jonathan Reis’ efforts from well outside the box, to push Bashundara’s hopes of a goal in the first half away.
Bashundhara were close to putting the equalizer away after 57 minutes as the opposing defense lost control of the ball to Robinho in a scuffle towards the left of the goal, but in the end the ball was cleared over the dead ball line. The ball almost spun back before Gurpreet pushed away with an outstretched arm.
Attacking on purpose, the Blues came close several times in the final stages
Bengaluru are back in action on August 24 at the same venue when they host Maziya S&RC in their final Group D match.