A moment of individual brilliance from Javi Hernandez earned Bengaluru FC its maiden victory of the 2023-24 Indian Super League (ISL) season, a 2-1 win over East Bengal FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Wednesday.
The Spaniard’s acrobatic bicycle kick from inside the penalty area in the 72nd minute turned the tables on East Bengal in a contest where the home side was easily second-best.
East Bengal took the lead as early as the 15th minute when the outstanding Naorem Mahesh ripped open the BFC defence with just three touches, and converted. Centre-back Slavko Damjanovic was nutmegged and Jessel Carneiro turned inside out before the ball was slotted home past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
AS IT HAPPENED: Bengaluru FC vs East Bengal FC Highlights
The host played as if it had its handbrakes on, especially midfielders Rohit Kumar and Harsh Patre, who misplaced passes and fouled opponents. With not much support, Sunil Chhetri and Hernandez took matters into their own hands, playing a one-two and the former drawing a foul from Mandar Rao Dessai to earn a penalty.
Chhetri scored from the spot but it didn’t do much to shift the momentum.
East Bengal strung together fine passing moves, especially from the left, with Nandhakumar Sekar heavily involved. He even converted from a rebound off a freekick, only to be flagged for offside.
In the second period, East Bengal continued with the same verve but failed to score. Nandha and Harmanjot Khabra missed gilt-edged chances even as BFC survived a close call for a handball inside the area. The Kolkata giant paid the price for the profligacy, with Hernandez’s goal arriving like a bolt from the blue and flattening it out.