AFC Cup 2021: ATK Mohun Bagan inflict thumping defeat on Bengaluru FC
The first matchday in Group D saw the two Indian giants clash on the continental stage with ATK Mohun Bagan emerging 2-0 victors over Bengaluru FC.
It was a fascinating encounter to kickstart the AFC Cup group stages as ATK Mohun Bagan beat Bengaluru FC 2-0 in a Group D encounter at the National Football Stadium in Male, Maldives.
ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Antonio Habas went with his tried and tested back-3 with Carl McHugh slotting in between Pritam Kotal and young Sumit Rathi. Big name signing Hugo Boumous led the midfield charge with Lenny Rodrigues and Deepak Tangri just behind him. Manvir Singh was deployed as a wing back to support David Williams and Roy Krishna upfront, like he did on so many occasions in the 2020-21 Indian Super League.
For Marco Pezzaiuoli's side, there were two changes from the playoff game against Eagles FC with Naorem Roshan Singh and Ajay Chhetri coming in for Ashique Kuruniyan and Rohit Kumar. Sunil Chhetri started from the left, Udanta from the right while Cleiton Silva played upfront, with Jayesh Rane and Suresh Wangjam behind them.
The Blues made the better start, looking lively right from the get go. A couple of swift counter attacks saw Cleiton Silva released into space before Jayesh Rane got the first real shot of the match away at goal. His confidence, having scored in the playoff match, seemed to be sky high and he probably covered every blade of grass against his former employers.
The Mariners' first real chance came around the 20th minute mark when Boumous found himself beyond the Bengaluru defence but his well-directed shot was saved by Gurpreet. The French-Moroccan looked the most lively of the Green and Maroon attackers as he conjured a second opportunity just beyond the half-hour mark which was again thwarted by Gurpreet.
The side from Kolkata eventually capitalized on their dominance before half-time when a corner from Boumous was headed towards goal by Subhasish, only to be deflected in by Roy Krishna at the last second from right in front of Gurpreet (1-0).
The second half began with a bang!! David Williams fizzed in a pass inside the box for birthday boy Subhasish, who took a magnificent touch, made space for a shot and beat Gurpreet quite easily (2-0).
Sunil Chhetri and co. came back into the game somewhat thereafter. A series of corners saw them get close along with a powerful shot by Silva which was fisted away by Amrinder. However, a goal remained elusive.
The rest of the game was a lesson in game management from Habas' side as they drew tackles, kept hold of the ball and circulated from one side of the pitch to the other. In the end, it was an easy game to see out as Bengaluru FC never really got close to scoring except a few long-distance efforts that failed to trouble Amrinder.
The Blues play Bashundhara Kings next on the 21st before ATK Mohun Bagan take on Maziya S&RC the same day. With no return fixtures however, Bengaluru will have their task cut out in the next two games.