Bengaluru: Ten-man Bengaluru FC flexed their muscle and sealed a spot at the top of the table in the Indian Super League (ISL) with a 3-0 win against FC Goa at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, here on Thursday.
Full-back Nishu Kumar received his second yellow card and was sent for an early bath in the 42nd minute. Down to 10 men, Bengaluru produced a brilliant second-half performance to win all three points as Juanan (50th minute), Udanta Singh (58') and Miku (69') wrote their name on the scoresheet.
The win assures Bengaluru of finishing top of the league for a second consecutive season while FC Goa will be disappointed at not pressing home their numerical advantage.
FC Goa looked to be the better team in the opening session, but the tables turned in the second.
The hosts were given an early scare when Ahmed Jahouh stole the ball off Dimas Delgado's feet in the midfield and unleashed a piledriver at the goal that ricocheted back off the inside of the post.
Bengaluru also had a chance when Miku and Dimas combined brilliantly in the 20th minute but the scoreline remained the same, thanks to an alert Mourtada Fall.
The defender stuck with Miku as he tried to get a show away after Dimas' excellent lob, allowing Naveen Kumar to collect what turned out to be a tame effort.
Bengaluru were dealt a blow just before the break after the referee showed a second yellow card to Nishu Kumar for dissent. The full-back, after bringing down Jackichand Singh, was punished for his frustration as the referee awarded a free-kick to Goa.
Despite going down to 10 men, the hosts nearly scored at the stroke of half-time when Harmanjot Khabra forced a brilliant save from Naveen Kumar.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, Bengaluru started the second half on the front foot and took the lead within five minutes. Xisco Hernandez delivered an excellent cross into the centre of the box and the ball fell for Juanan. The defender chested the ball and lashed a volley into the top corner.
The hosts piled the pressure on the visitors and showed no signs of holding back despite. In the 58th minute, Dimas gained possession of the ball in midfield and played Udanta Singh behind the defence with a delightful through-ball. The Indian winger raced into the box and with just the goalkeeper to beat, finished with aplomb to double his team's lead.
Goa took risks and pressed further up the field to try and get back into the game. Brandon latched onto Edu Bedia's ball into the box in the 66th minute but his effort was denied by the crossbar.
Bengaluru exploited the space at the other end and added to their tally minutes later. Dimas found Miku in space at the edge of the box.
The Venezuelan beat the Goa goalkeeper with a terrific long-range strike to score his first ISL goal after a long injury lay-off and end Bengaluru's two-match losing run.