A disciplined NorthEast United hanged on for 90 minutes to earn one point while Bengaluru FC failed to find their scoring boots despite several clear-cut chances in front of the goal. The Highlanders did create some chances of their own but after defending for maximum part of the game, they certainly are the happier side in contrast to the Blues who looked all set to begin the season on a winning note.
The game started in a slow but steady fashion. Bengaluru FC went for their usual possession-based play to find the gaps in the NorthEast United defence. Their three new recruits Ashique Kuruniyan, Raphael Augusto and Manuel Onwu displayed their quality in the first half. Kuruniyan created the first chance of the night in the 17th minute when he got past three red shirts with a brilliant solo run and shot wide of the goal.
Augusto split open the NorthEast United defence on numerous occasions. Udanta fired away all the three balls played on by Augusto in the 18th and 26th minute. Chhetri also came agonizingly close to scoring and was denied on goal by the goalkeeper and the defenders. After an early Bengaluru upsurge, NorthEast United shifted gears as well.
Martin Chaves wriggled his way into the Bengaluru box and went for goal, forcing Sandhu to pull off a diving save to keep the scores level in the 21st minute. Chaves got another chance to make amends in the 34th minute. A mix-up in the Bengaluru defence allowed Chaves an attempt to shoot and he shot wide from short-range.
United kept bothering the Bengaluru defence and ended the second-half on a high after an initial slow start. However, the scores remained goalless at the break despite so many half chances for both the sides.
The second half began in a similar fashion. Bengaluru FC stood to their possession-based open play and kept on pushing for the equaliser. However, a resilient NorthEast United defence stood tall to all offensive moves by Bengaluru FC. The Highlanders hit Bengaluru on the counter and almost scored in the 51st minute. Martin Chaves found Asamoah Gyan who cut inside the Bengaluru defence and went for goal. The ball rattled off the woodwork while Sandhu stood watching.
Bengaluru FC's constant pressure onto NorthEast United almost yielded a result when a first-time half-volley from Nishu Kumar in the 64th minute was somehow denied by a diving Subhasish Roy Chowdhary as the clouds kept on pouring.
With eleven corners under their belt, Bengaluru failed to break the NorthEast United juggernaut and had to settle for a draw. NorthEast United also withdrew their midfield and went all defensive in the final few minutes and were happy with a point.
Carles Cuadrat may repent the chances missed by his team and will look to sharpen the poor finishing displayed by his team as they visit FC Goa in the next game where such misses will be punished by Coro and co. The Highlanders will host debutants Odisha FC at home and will look to get their first win of the season after a point earned in Bengaluru.