Hyderabad becomes hyperactive to render Bengaluru winless in eight games

Hyderabad recorded its fourth consecutive draw but remains undefeated in six games …

Hyderabad struggled to break an organized defense from Bengaluru for 86 minutes in their 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) game on Thursday.

Bengaluru were confident and looked relieved to end their seven-game winless streak. But Aridane Santana scored in the 86th minute. And then came Fran Sandaza’s strike in the 90th minute. And this allowed the Blues to extend their winless journey to eight games.

The Blues seem assured in their half of the field for the majority of the match. The game had a Bengaluru win written all over it but they failed to fight until the final whistle and paid the price.

Bengaluru suffered an early blow when Juanan suffered a hamstring injury early in the game and had to be replaced by Parag Srivas. But the modified back line still did a very good job of keeping Hyderabad’s talented attack under control.

Rahul Bheke moved into center-back and substitute Parag Srivas played as full-back, but Hyderabad’s forwards missed every chance they created.

A free kick from Cleiton Silva was assisted into the net by Sunil Chhetri for the opening goal for Bengaluru. Chhetri has had a disappointing season so far in the ISL but made an impact early on and became India’s top scorer with five goals in 13 matches. Halicharan Narzary, who has four goals under his belt (none of them penalty), failed to make a similar impact in the final third at the other end.

The third final action quickly dried up but Hyderabad had their best half-time chance on the stroke of half-time with a quick counterattack. Liston Colaco, who was otherwise ineffective, did well to free Akash Mishra into space. The full-back, another player who couldn’t thrive on the flanks like he usually does, had a rare chance to cross the box freely. He delivered a good cross to the center where Narzary missed a keeper.

Bengaluru’s hopes of a victory were bolstered when impressive Kerala-born striker Leon Augustine scored after the hour. Hitesh Sharma was penalized for his misplaced pass as Leon ran to goal and coldly slid the ball into the net with the outside of his right boot to give Bengaluru a two-goal cushion.

Hyderabad Bengaluru Sunil Chhetri

It was meant to be the highlight of Bengaluru. There wasn’t supposed to be a late return, depending on how Bengaluru had managed to keep Hyderabad’s relentless attacks at bay. But Marquez’s change of tactics and the spirit of the players stole the show in the closing minutes of the game.

Substitute Rohit Danu, who was part of the tactical mix, impressed on the right flank. His delicious cross in the box was guided into the net by Aridane Santana for the opening goal.

The second goal also came from the right flank. The defense of the Blues, very tight in the first half, failed to clear the ball in the box and allowed Roland Aldberg from the edge of the box to reach Fran Sandaza. The substitute found the net close to complete the comeback and once again prove Hyderabad’s spirit and talent this season.

The equalizer looked offside, but the Bengaluru defense had Sandaza onside, extending his winless run.