Panaji, February 2: A twelfth minute strike from Cleiton Silva and an own-goal by Debjit Majumder on the cusp of half-time enabled Bengaluru FC to defeat SC East Bengal 2-0 in their second-leg Hero ISL clash at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Tuesday. It was SCEB's sixth defeat this season.
SCEB Head Coach Robbie Fowler made five changes to the line-up that started against FC Goa in their last match as Ankit Mukherjee, Matti Steinmann, Wahengbam Angousana, Aaron Amadi-Holloway and Harmanpreet Singh came in for Rana Gharami, Anthony Pilkington, Md Rafique, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Jacques Maghoma.
BFC broke the deadlock in the 12th minute as a long goal-kick from Gurpreet Singh Sandhu saw captain Sunil Chhetri latch on to the ball near the SCEB box and head it down for Silva to finish it clinically with a left-footed shot.
SCEB pushed hard for an equaliser, but their efforts were rendered ineffective as they failed to breach the BFC defense and were found wanting in the final third.
The Blues doubled their lead in the 45th minute as Rahul Bheke, after receiving a precise through ball from Chhetri on the right wing, fed a delicate cross to substitute Parag Srivas inside the box, whose side-footed shot hit the post first and then ricocheted off Majumder's leg to go into the goal.
Fowler exhausted all his five available substitutions in the second-half, but his side couldn't reduce the deficit.
BFC came close to scoring their third goal of the night when Chhetri unleashed a powerful long-range volley in the 85th minute, but it hit the woodwork. Eventually, they managed to keep a clean sheet and end their eight-match winless run.
The Red-and-Golds dominated the possession (62%), but it was of no avail as they couldn't register a single shot on target.
SCEB remain rooted to the tenth position on the league table with thirteen points from fifteen matches (two wins, seven draws and six losses).
Reflecting on the result at the virtual post-match Press conference, Fowler said, 'We had a game plan. We knew what we wanted to do. We need to give Bengaluru a lot of credit as well because they made it difficult for us. They blocked the paths and cut off the little pockets and that made it difficult for us.'
SCEB play their next match against Jamshedpur FC, at the Fatorda Stadium on February 7.