Bengaluru, Oct 8 (FN Agency) A late Alan Costa winner catapulted Bengaluru FC to register a 1-0 victory over NorthEast United FC in this year’s ISL opener at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Saturday. The Blues, who returned to their Fortress after a two-season hiatus, saw 19,000 fans make their way into the stands. Earlier, Grayson started with a front three of Chhetri-Krishna-Sivasakthi, while Costa, Aleks Jovanovic and Sandesh Jhingan were the three men at the back. The visitors, meanwhile started with Frenchman Romain Philippoteaux in an attacking role, with Matt Derbyshire the focal point. Bengaluru had the first big chance of the game when Naorem Roshan blitzed past white shirts down the left before deftly cutting the ball back for Sivasakthi. The young striker’s attempt to place the ball beyond Arindam Bhattacharja flew just inches wide. NorthEast had a chance of their own soon after when Jithin MS picked up on a pass forward and ran through on goal, but Prabir Das did well to recover in time to make the challenge.
Shots from Bruno Ramires and Suresh Wangjam went wayward as Bengaluru continued to make most of the noise. Heading into the break, the Blues came close to finding the back of the net, once again through Sivasakthi, but the striker’s shot from a Chhetri pass was deflected wide as the referee drew a halt on proceedings. With the game goalless at the hour mark, Grayson rang in a double change, bringing on Javi Hernandez and Jayesh Rane for Suresh Wangjam and Krishna. Soon after, Bengaluru squandered yet another chance, this time, through Chhetri. Picking out a long pass from the back, Sivasakthi charged into the box and squared the ball for his captain who couldn’t connect cleanly. Sensing the need to take the game to NorthEast, Grayson brought on Udanta Singh for Jovanovic, as Bengaluru switched gears in attack.
The winger made an instant impact, with his first involvement in the game a shot that fizzed wide of the bar. Moments later, Chhetri played a quick give-and-go with Udanta, but the skipper’s eventual shot could only find the side netting. With only minutes left to play, Bengaluru won a corner that substitute Javi Hernandez swung in for Costa, who nodded down and past Arindam Bhattacharja to give the Blues the lead in the 86th minute. With four minutes added on, NorthEast United had the ball in the back of the net at the other end through Jon Gaztanaga however, in consultation with his assistant, referee Rahul Gupta pulled it back, citing an infringement in the box. The Blues saw the remainder of the game through to secure three points. Bengaluru next travel to Chennai, where they face Chennaiyin FC on the 14th of October, at the JN Stadium.