The first South Indian derby of the 2018-19 edition of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) saw Bengaluru FC pick up all three points against Chennaiyin FC with a hard-fought 1-0 victory at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday.
Bengaluru started the game slightly on the ascendency with Miku and Udanta Singh causing problems for the Chennaiyin defence in the first few minutes. The defending champions took some time to settle but soon created a golden chance in the 19th minute. Gregory Nelson pierced through the Bengaluru defence before releasing an exquisite through ball to Jeje. However, the forward was caught in two minds on whether to finish the move himself or square it to his team-mate, with the result being the ball rolling out for a goal-kick.
Ten minutes later, Jeje was awarded another gift when Rahul Bheke horribly misjudged his back pass. The Mizo Sniper did well to skip past goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in goal but couldn’t sort his feet out to finish. Chennaiyin would go on to rue their missed chances as Bengaluru opened the scoring near the halfway mark.
New signing Xisco Hernandez picked up the ball just beyond the centre circle and quickly released Miku. The forward took one touch before arrowing his shot into the top corner, leaving custodian Karanjit Singh with no chance. That proved to be the last piece of the action before the whistle blew for half-time and the Blues entered the break with the lead.
The second half started off with Bengaluru in the front-foot, having gained confidence from their one-goal advantage. The Marina Machans were fortunate to have all 11 men on the pitch when Jerry Lalrinzuala cynically brought down Udanta in a last-ditch challenge. The young defender was, however, shown a yellow.
The Blues continued to pile on the pressure and nearly doubled their lead in the 67th minute. Debutant Albert Serran got on the end of a dangerous corner kick, but his resulting header missed the far post by a whisker. With the game nearing its end, Chennaiyin head coach John Gregory made some attacking substitutions and went all-out in search for the equaliser. But the Blues were able to hold their ground till the final whistle and in the process, extract revenge on the same opponents against whom they lost the 2017-18 final.