It took a Chencho Gyeltshen stunner to save Bengaluru FC but was worth the wait after NorthEast United seemed to have done just enough to end the visitor’s unbeaten run of eight games. The Bhutanese scored in the second minute of extra-time to help Bengaluru hold NorthEast to a 1-1 draw at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium on Wednesday.
The home side, who had a goal controversially disallowed in the first half and two poor calls for offside, took the lead through Federico Gallego from some clever play between Bartholomew Ogbeche and Redeem Tlang set him clear.
But Bengaluru’s last equaliser meant NorthEast remained second to The Blues, who lead the table with 23 points from nine games. NorthEast are on 19 points from a game more.
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The home side started well and almost scored in the opening few minutes but Tlang’s long ranger was saved by Bengaluru goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. The resulting corner sparked controversy after the referee shunted away vociferous penalty claims from NorthEast players.
Replays showed that Xisco Hernandez had pulled down Ogbeche with his back to the ball but the referee CR Srikrishna made a blunder in not awarding what perhaps could have been a clear-cut penalty.
NorthEast also had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside at the half-hour mark. Provat Lakra’s long ball for Ogbeche, who was in an offside position, saw Albert Serran kick the ball before the former PSG man ran from behind and smashed the ball into the net. But by then the assistant referee had raised his offside flag even when Ogbeche was behind Serran.
Bengaluru, on the other, were finding it difficult to carve out chances as the home side pushed back into their own half.
Gallego then deservedly put NorthEast ahead in the 64th minute when Ogbeche after some brilliant work found the Uruguayan in space. Gallego cut-back on Albert Serran before slotting the ball home to put his side 1-0 up.
But Bengaluru, who had struggled for most of the match found a saviour in substitute Chencho. The Bhutanese forward scored with an audacious over-head kick to equalise and help his side return with a valuable away point from the hills.
Kean Lewis’ cross from the right was headed into Chencho’s path by Sunil Chhetri to which the forward replied with a first-time overhead kick.