Defending champions Bengaluru FC cruised to a 3-0 win over Shillong Lajong in their opening match of the new I-League season at the Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Saturday. Udanta Singh scored a goal in each half and Sena Ralte added a third late on as BFC began their title defence in style under new coach Albert Roca.
Having led BFC to the AFC Cup final, Roca handed starts to Ralte, Harmanjot Khabra and Lenny Rodrigues as the hosts took control of the game after a measured opening ten minutes.
Khabra had a busy night, joining every attack from midfield, while Sena Ralte showed style and strength every time he got the ball. Lenny was the most impressive of the lot, with a composed display in midfield.
For all the flair in passing and possession, it was a goalmouth scramble that gave Bengaluru the lead in the 26th minute. John Johnson dug the ball out of the mess and Udanta rolled it in with Vishal Kaith out of position.
Following the scrappy finish that gave him the first goal, Udanta showed sublime skill in the 68thminute to score his second. After being picked out in the box, he flicked the ball over his marker before smashing the ball past the keeper's reach.
The hosts dominated possession for much of the game, keeping the ball in the Lajong half and dictating the tempo. A defensive clearance from Lajong in the 80th minute fell at the feet of left-back Ralte, who smashed home from over 30 yards to make it 3-0 -- a repeat of the result from the same fixture last year while maintaining their 100% win record over Lajong at home.
Bengaluru next face Chennai City FC at the Kanteerava Stadium on January 14th.
Ivan's strike gives East Bengal one point
EAST Bengal 1-1 Aizawl FC
Super sub Ivan Bukenya's strike a minute before the regulation time saved East Bengal the blushes as they managed to hold minnows Aizawl FC to a 1-1 draw in the opening match of the 2016-17 I-League at the Barasat Stadium on Saturday.
In a sloppy first-half in which their defence was wayward and midfield looked disoriented, East Bengal conceded a goal in the 45+1st minute when Gurwinder ended up smashing into his own net trying to clear the ball.
Aizawl almost doubled the lead three minutes into the second half, as Alfred Jaryan's header hit the crossbar.
East Bengal had their best chance in the 50th minute from a free-kick. Narayan Das got it down the left and set it up delightfully for Willis Plaza with plenty of room. But the Trinidadian striker, who was brought in after the changeover, missed the target..
Substitute Brandon Vanlalremdika also had a chance to double Aizawl's lead through a free-kick, but his effort was wide.
Rehenesh kept East Bengal alive with a series of fine saves, the most notable of them coming in the 79th minute, when Albert Zohmingmawia shot from the right.
Ugandan defender Bukenya, who replaced Gurwinder in the 67th minute, scored from close range in the dying minutes to put East Bengal level.