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Bengaluru FC’s away woes laid bare in Kochi as Kerala Blasters celebrate first win over Blues

The Blues’ record away from home this season has not been great…

It has been a strange season for Bengaluru FC this time around. They have not been potent enough in attack but have been absolutely water-tight in defence. They’ve scored just 20 goals in the Indian Super League (ISL) this season, with only NorthEast United and Hyderabad FC registering worse tallies. Despite that, Carles Cuadrat’s team have a goal difference of nine and have qualified for the play-offs.

Similarly, their home and away records have also been in contrast. 19 of their 29 points have come from eight home games while nine away matches produced just 10 points. In fact, in the last 15 away games in the ISL, Bengaluru have won just two.

There was more away woe on Saturday night for Bengaluru FC as they ended up on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline against Kerala Blasters which was also the Men in Yellow’s first ever win over the Blues.

Bengaluru’s grittiness and fighting spirit have helped them overcome their challengers this season but the lack of goals and fluidity while going forward has come to haunt them, especially on their travels.

They’ve scored just six goals from their nine away matches this season which makes for poor reading when you compare it with Hyderabad FC. The Nizams, easily the worst side this season in the ISL, have scored seven goals from eight away matches.

It is often Bengaluru’s prowess in setpieces that bails them out when their attack lacks fluidity. On Saturday, ironically, their only goal came from open play while Kerala Blasters’ both came from set-pieces.

Eelco Schattorie had boasted before the match that he knew how to beat the Blues and he walked the talk, despite the Blues taking an early lead through Deshorn Brown. Though Bilal Khan’s decision to come way off his line has to be faulted for the goal, the pass from young Suresh Wangjam for Brown was immaculate and the Jamaican kept a cool head to convert it.

However, he was virtually non existent in the game after that and was hauled off at the hour mark.

Incidentally, Kerala bossed possession in midfield, with the likes of Dimas Delgado and Erik Paartalu struggling to gain control of the game. Paartalu was seen dropping back to help a defence which missed the stability that the suspended Juanan brings. Albert Serran struggled against Raphael Messi Bouli and Bartholomew Ogbeche. Serran was guilty of pulling Messi’s jersey in the second half which led to a soft, yet justifiable penalty that Ogbeche converted.

Gianni Zuiverloon, who stepped in to midfield after Sergio Cidoncha’s injury, was key to the Blasters’ game, bringing a sense of calmness to their build-up play. Though Sahal Abdul Samad, given a rare start, was on the periphery, Kerala continued to carry a threat about them.

On the rare chances that Bengaluru were allowed to counter-attack, Udanta Singh’s lack of composure hurt them. The winger’s disapppointing season shows signs of abating and he was guilty of spurning at least two gilt-edged one-on-one chances.

In the end, even the usually dependable Gurpreet Singh Sandhu also had an outing to forget, letting Ogbeche’s firm strike sneak in under his body and helped Kerala equalise. It was a deserved win for a determined Kerala Blasters over a side which is crying out for creativity in attack.

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