Bengaluru, March 14 (IANS) A young Bengaluru FC side got the club’s AFC Cup Group E campaign to a winning start after a Daniel Lalhlimpuia strike (72th) gave the Blues a 1-0 win over Abahani Limited Dhaka (Bangladesh) at the Kanteerava Stadium here on Wednesday.
With the focus firmly on Saturday’s Indian Super League (ISL) final against Chennaiyin FC, Albert Roca handed first starts to three players in Lucas Perez, Asheer Akhtar and Robinson Singh. Joyner Lourenco and Zohmingliana Ralte were in the centre of a defence that saw the return of Nishu Kumar from an injury lay-off.
In a rather quiet first half where chances were at a premium for both sides, Lalhlimpuia had a couple of tries from distance at goal, but nothing dangerous enough to ruffle the ranks in the Abahani defence.
Bengaluru started the second half with a lot more intent and the dominance in possession had Abahani defending in numbers. Akhtar was a threat with his overlapping runs and dangerous crosses in the box which Thongkhosiem Haokip and Perez failed to connect cleanly in quick succession.
Roca’s second change on the hour mark saw Daniel Segovia come on for Robinson, adding more teeth to the Bengaluru attack. With Abahani under pressure, the Blues eventually got the breakthrough in the 72nd with both the Daniels combining.
Alwyn George, with ball on the right, did well to hold on to possession before sending in a cross that Segovia headed down for Lalhlimpuia. The striker smashed his take on the bounce, leaving Sahidul Alam with no chance.
Minutes later, Segovia had a chance to make it two-nil but shot on the run from an angle went straight to the Abahani keeper. Roca then handed another youngster, Leon Augustine his first appearance for the senior team, bringing him on in place of George.
Abahani threw numbers in attack towards the end of the game in a bid to get an equaliser but the Bengaluru defence did well to hold fort and take all three points on the night.