Rahul Bheke turns hero from villian with a later effort
Bengaluru FC left it late yet again, but a raucous Sree Kanteerava Stadium was not complaining on Friday. Rahul Bheke struck with two minutes left in regulation time as the home side overcame FC Pune City 2-1 and opened up a five-point gap at the top of the ISL table.
After Udanta Singh’s superb opener had been cancelled out by an own goal from Bheke, BFC missed a multitude of chances. It appeared that Carles Cuadrat’s men would come to regret their profligacy but Bheke redeemed himself as the fans erupted.
The game got off to a lively start, and the opening goal was not long in coming. It was a stunner.
A long diagonal pass from Dimas Delgado was received by Harmanjot Khabra near the corner flag. He laid the ball for Udanta Singh, who drove into the box, shimmied past left-back L. Fanai, and buried a fine left-footed shot inside the far post.
Minutes later, Delgado — whose return here clearly infused life into BFC’s play — slipped Chencho Gyeltshen through. The Bhutanese striker’s shot was only stopped by the outstretched boot of goalkeeper Kamaljeet Singh.
BFC was driving forward with ease, encountering little resistance through the middle of the pitch. So it was a surprise when Pune’s equaliser arrived, a goal completely against the run of play.
It was the product of a counter-attack that Marcelinho was at the heart of. The Brazilian sprang down the right flank, putting Marko Stankovic through. The latter swept a cross into the box, when Bheke needlessly stuck his right foot out and deflected the ball into his own net.
The defender, playing in an unfamiliar centre-half role on the evening, may have been better off controlling the ball with his left foot.
The rest of the half was largely one-way traffic, though. BFC had multiple chances: Gyeltshen headed over from close range, Erik Paartalu’s rasping shot came off the crossbar, Sunil Chhetri failed to beat the ’keeper from close range, and Xisco’s long-range effort went wide.
At the end of the first period, BFC had 14 shots on goal to Pune’s two. The visitor had failed to hit the target even once. It seemed as if this would come to cost BFC, but Bheke would provide the final twist.
The result: Bengaluru FC 2 (Udanta Singh 11, Rahul Bheke 88) bt FC Pune City 1 (Rahul Bheke 15-OG).