I-League: Bagan rally to hold Bengaluru FC

Bangalore, Sep 22 (IANS) Mohun Bagan denied Bengaluru FC a winning start with an injury time equaliser to force a 1-1 draw in the Airtel I-League football match at the decked-up Bangalore Football Stadium here Sunday.

Bengaluru led 1-0 on a 50th minute goal by Australian import Sean Rooney and looked well on way to making a winning debut before 22-year old Satyan Sabeeth found the net for Bagan in the first minute of the injury time as the teams split points.

BFC coach Ashley Westwood threw a curve ball when he started the game without skipper Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh, opting for Beikhokhei Beingaichho to partner Rooney up front, but the hosts made their intentions clear by going all out on attack.

Bagan defence had a trying time, but managed to scramble the ball to safety each time BFC entered the danger zone. Yet, against the run of play, Bagan had the best chance to forge ahead when Keegan Pereira fouled Japanese Katsumi Yusa in the box leading to a penalty. However, Yusa's attempted was well-saved by goalkeeper Pawan Kumar.

Hereabouts, Bagan enjoyed their best moments when Yusa, in an obvious attempt to redeem himself for the penalty miss, put Sabeeth in possession, but the striker came up with a tame effort when in position to score.

A reprieved BFC then went on the offensive, but John Johnson's header came off the post and then Rooney's attempt was picked up by veteran goalkeeper Sandip Nandy as Bagan just about survived the home team's onslaughts.

The teams thus went into the break on even keel and soon on resumption, Rooney scored BFC's maiden goal after being put through by Vishal Kumar.

Heartened by the success, BFC pressed on and had a great chance to double their score when a penalty was awarded after Keegan was fouled by Niegerian Celestine Anyichie, but Rooney failed to beat an agile Nandy from the spot.

Thereafter, BFC, with Chhetri coming off the bench, had a few scoring opportunities, but wasted them as, as did Bagan with Yusa coming close only to see his shot bounce off the upright.

The hosts paid the price for the lapses as Sabeeth found the net with a header off a corner kick, just seconds before close as a relieved Bagan turned a certain defeat into an honourable draw.

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