Bengaluru FC continued their unbeaten run in the Indian Super League (ISL) after a 1-0 win over South Indian rivals Kerala Blasters on Saturday night in a match that stood out for poor officiating and poor finishing.
The result on the night meant that Bengaluru continued their dominance over Kerala Blasters, registering their fourth win over the Kochi-based side in five games. But it could well have been a different result had Kerala Blasters converted all their chances.
An injury-hit Kerala Blasters were at a disadvantage before they went into the game. Sandesh Jhingan, GIanni Zuiverloon, Jairo Rodriguez, Mario Arques were all injured which meant an all Indian backline of Mohammed Rakip, Abdul Hakku, Raju Gaikwad and Jessel Carneiro were up against the Bengaluru attack.
However, Eelco Schattorie's side showed a lot of intent right from the start. The plan was evident - they pressed Bengaluru hard, making it difficult for the Blues to play out from the back.
The plan worked in the first half and there were moments where Bengaluru lost possession in dangerous areas. Ashique Kuruniyan's threat was nullified by Rakip and Prasanth K who double teamed against him.
There were chances for the Men in Yellow but poor finishing meant they could not convert them.
Bartholomew Ogbeche just did not look a 100 per cent fit and Raphael Messi Bouli, for all his industry and endeavour, was wayward with his finishing as some of the fans in the upper stands behind the Bengaluru goal in the first half will testify.
Despite a fighting first-half performance from Kerala, Bengaluru had their moments as well against a suspect defence. Albert Serran headed just over before Chhetri hit the side-netting from close-range.
However, 10 minutes into the second half, Sunil Chhetri came up with a quality finish, making the most of poor defending from Kerala Blasters from a corner. Nobody picked him up as he ran into the box and placed a diving header into the bottom corner.
After that goal, Kerala disintegrated and Bengaluru took control of the match. They would not relinquish that control until the end of the match and should have scored another goal. However, Kerala too had a few chances to equalise which they spurned.
The game also saw dubious refereeing, with yellow cards being shown for some innocuous challenges. But the talking point was the linesman who got two key calls incorrect. First one was in the first half when he deemed the ball to have crossed the line before Udanta got a cross in which was converted by Raphael Augusto. The problem was that the linesman was in no position to make that call and got it wrong.
The second was an offside call on Rahul KP in the second half - a move which would have resulted in an equaliser for Kerala Blasters. In the end, the incorrect calls were balanced out but it is not good advertisement for the league, especially in a match that generates huge interest.