Bengaluru FC continued their unbeaten start to the season following a narrow 1-0 win against Odisha FC on Wednesday at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune.
Juanan (36') scored in the first half to secure the win for the visitors and help the climb to the top of the standings.
As Josep Gombau mentioned before the game, the fixture was set up as a battle between two similar philosophies. Unsurprisingly, Bengaluru enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the early moments. But they did very little to keep Arshdeep Singh on his toes.
In fact, the visitors enjoyed the first big chance of the game, with Nandha Kumar almost proving decisive on the counter. The winger pulled the trigger from outside the box and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had to be at full stretch to cover the far-post.
Jerry came close to scoring from the corner that followed after the Bengaluru custodian failed to parry it away to safety. Jerry’s shot flew just wide.
Eventually, the defending champions went one ahead in the 36th minute through Juanan. Nishu Kumar played Erik Paartalu on the wing with a perfectly weighted aerial ball. The Australian found the centre-back with his head and Juanan managed to direct his shot to the far post from the tight angle.
Udanta Singh could have made it 2-0 just before half-time but poor decision-making saw Odisha receive a major let-off. Carlos Delgado gave the ball away to Sunil Chhetri, who played the winger in space. Udanta unsuccessfully cut it back to Raphael Augusto rather than going for goal himself.
The hosts started the second half on the front foot and created several scoring opportunities early on. But Gurpreet put his best foot forward to ensure his clean-sheet was intact. In the 55th minute, the Bengaluru custodian produced a double save to deny Marcos Tebar and Diawandou Diagne.
The Odisha custodian was a busy man too and played a key role in ensuring his team had a fighting chance until the very end. He cleared Paartalu's shot off the line in the 71st minute and produced a couple of routine saves to prevent the visitors from adding more goals.
Xisco and Daniel Lalhlimpuia came close to hurting their former side but Gurpreet was adamant on walking away with the clean-sheet and did everything within his abilities to do exactly that.
An important away win powered by a resolute defensive performance saw the defending champions climb to the top of the table.