ISL: Hernandez fires late winner to give Bengaluru bragging rights against Kerala Blasters

ISL 2023- 24
Bengaluru FC's Sivasakthi (blue) and Kerala Blasters' Milos Drincic vie for the ball during the ISL match in Bengaluru on Saturday. Photo: ISL

Bengaluru FC are into the top-six, to fuel their playoffs qualification aspirations with a 1-0 victory against Kerala Blasters FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in the Indian Super League on Saturday. With 21 points from 18 games, the Blues have displaced Jamshedpur FC from the sixth spot in the standings, who have 20 points from the same number of games to their name.

The 3 points came as a result of a late 89th minute winner by Bengaluru FC’s Spanish midfield maestro Javi Hernandez, who tapped in a strike set up by Shivaldo Singh. The 2018-19 ISL champions got the goal as a result of knocking the door of the Kerala Blasters FC backline consistently, throughout the course of the game.

The Yellow Army were able to keep the Blues at bay, but Hernandez kept at it, driving moves forward, distributing passes to players at key positions, and finally getting into the promising position to convert a chance that earned the home side three points from the contest.

Bengaluru FC skipper Sunil Chhetri was at the forefront for long durations of the game for the Gerard Zaragoza-coached side, forming a formidable partnership with Ryan Williams to find multiple breakthroughs into the Kerala Blasters FC defence. The industrious Williams was getting behind the defence, producing several important opportunities that Chhetri fell short of pouncing upon properly multiple times.

Williams sprinted on the left flank, took a slight turn before launching in a cross that Chhetri headed off target in the 14th minute, for starters. Whilst the distance might have disadvantaged him in this instance, the forward had another chance in the 33rd minute that arguably had greater probability to be netted in.

Williams and Hernandez stepped up to take a free kick, with the former bluffing and letting the Spaniard curl in a cross that needed just a slight nick from Chhetri inside the box to open the scoring. That was not to be, but the Blues deserve praise as their frontline kept at it, delivering low crosses from lateral positions in the second half.

One such delivery in the 68th minute by Williams had Chhetri tapping it off target, but the strategy to outplay the visitors on the flank worked to the benefit of the Blues eventually. Shivaldo has risen the ranks pretty quickly this season, emerging as a breakthrough young performer for Bengaluru FC.

His assist for Hernandez’s goal in the 89th minute oozed precision, and the youngster did well to carry out his task to perfection at such a crucial juncture of the proceedings.

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