- Roy Krishna (32')
Bengaluru FC extended their winning streak to six games in the Indian Super League (ISL) after a 1-0 victory over arch-rivals Kerala Blasters at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday. Roy Krishna netted his fifth goal of the season as his team jumped from seventh to fifth on the table, and a point clear of FC Goa and Odisha FC.
An electric atmosphere engulfed the venue with several away fans in attendance. Opportunities came at both ends in the initial stages of the first half. Dimitrios Diamantakos failed to hit the target from a promising Sahal Samad cross at one end, while Sandesh Jhinghan rattled the crossbar from a Javi Hernandez free-kick at the other.
Kerala Blasters kept more of the ball, but Bengaluru fired more shots at goal and eventually drew first blood just after the half-hour mark. Hernandez was the provider as he slid a clever ball through to Krishna down the right flank. Under pressure from Ruivah Hormipam, the Fijian outmuscled the defender and made his way into the box before slotting it past Prabhsukhan Gill at the near-post from a tight angle.
Five minutes from the break, Hernandez had an opportunity to get his name on the scoresheet when he dodged the offside trap and brought a long ball down deftly right in front of goal. However, Gill pounced on the ball before the Spaniard could adjust his footing and get a shot away.
Kerala Blasters started the second half on the front foot. Adrian Luna's cross from the right flank was just behind Diamantakos and was cleared to safety. Cheeky flicks were on display from Luna as the Blasters pushed forward repeatedly, getting thwarted by the staunch Bengaluru FC defence on almost every occasion. Samad attempted to find the far post on a couple of occasions, but both his efforts went wide.
Around the hour-mark, Bengaluru FC applied pressure on the Blasters. Roshan Naorem cut in from the left flank and tried to catch Gill on the wrong foot with a shot at the near post. However, the Blasters' shot-stopper was quick to palm it out for a corner. The Blasters huffed and puffed in the final few minutes of the game but could not do anything to correct their record at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in the Hero ISL.
Having set up their longest winning streak in ISL history, Bengaluru FC will play the newly crowned league winners Mumbai City FC next on February 15 to try and solidify their playoff chances. Meanwhile, Kerala Blasters are yet to confirm their playoff qualification this season and will have a chance to do that in their next game against ATK Mohun Bagan on February 18.
- Tejas Nagvenkar