A late overhead strike from forward player Chencho Gyeltshen earned Bengaluru FC a 1-1 draw against NorthEast United FC in the ongoing fifth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) here at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium on Wednesday.
Given the form of both sides so far, one would expect an explosive start to the match. However, neither side was able to muster up any real chances in the first ten minutes. NorthEast were given a scare in the 11th minute when Pawan Kumar failed to properly control a back pass. Sunil Chhetri nearly pounced on his mistake, but the ball went out for a goal-kick.
A couple of minutes later, the NorthEast United almost broke the deadlock after some fine play by Robert Lalthlamuana. The defender found Redeem Tlang who took one touch before firing at goal. However, Gurpreet Sigh Sandhu was there to thwart the danger by rushing out to save the shot.
As the half wore on, chances were few and far between as the majority of the play was spent in midfield. Towards the half-hour mark, Bartholomew Ogbeche thought that he had put the hosts in front. The captain was adjudged to have been in an offside position after being released through on goal.
Ogbeche did not seem too pleased with the referee's decision after putting the ball in the back of the net but that proved to be the last notable piece of action of an edgy first period as both sides went into the break all square.
The North Eastern side started the second half as the better of the two sides and deservedly took the lead after the hour mark. Ogbeche found his partner Gallego with a lofted pass. The Uruguayan chested the ball, beat his defender before smashing the ball home to make it 1-0 for NorthEast.
Bengaluru FC were rocked by the goal and nearly conceded a second goal later after a lapse by Gurpreet. The custodian charged forward to clear a pass but ended up fouling Ogbeche in the process. Ogbeche, however, could not find the back of the net from the resulting free-kick.
As the tie entered its final quarter, Bengaluru finally started imposing themselves. In the 75th minute, Harmanjot Khabra was awarded a glorious chance to equalise. The midfielder pounced on a loose ball inside the penalty box to fire a shot. The home side though were on guard with Mato Grgic putting his body on the line to prevent an almost certain goal.
Bengaluru had another chance to get back on level terms during the final minutes when substitute Chencho was teed up by Xisco Hernandez. The Bhutanese striker's shot on this occasion narrowly missed the far post.
Just as it seemed that NorthEast United would inflict a first defeat on Bengaluru, Chencho stepped up to redeem himself by scoring a truly spectacular goal. Kean Lewis delivered a cross from the left wing which was met by Chhetri, who headed the ball into the path of the substitute for him to produce an acrobatic overhead kick to score.
If there was one way to break down a resolute NorthEast defence, then this was certainly one. In the end, the hosts had to settle for a heart-breaking draw as the referee blew for the final whistle shortly after.
Bengaluru seemed uncharacteristically toothless in attack for a good hour of the match. Chencho's introduction gave the side a much-needed attacking impetus. He was deservedly awarded the Hero of the Match.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)