Playing one of their better games of the season, Bengaluru FC struck thrice through Sean Rooney, skipper Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh for a 3-0 win against East Bengal in a Hero I-League game here on a rain-free Sunday.
The victory, their ninth in 16 matches, took Bengaluru’s tally to 31 points, just one behind leaders Mohun Bagan in the I-League standings, while East Bengal, after suffering their fourth defeat, remain in fourth position with 26 points from 16 outings.
The only time the Blues were backpedalling was in the early stages of the game when East Bengal were on the offensive, but the home defence was equal to the task and the visitors repeatedly drew blank before Bengaluru FC took charge with goals by Rooney (31st), Chhetri (61st) and Robin Singh (88th).
East Bengal’s performance brought little cheer to their supporters as though they looked to be on par with their opponents, fared miserably at the finish and adding to their frustration was Blues goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte who was in his elements with a series of saves.
Early in the game, the Blues saw off some early forays by East Bengal and then gradually took control of the proceedings with a series of pacy moves on either flank.
The hosts forced two corners and off the second Rooney volleyed home first time after a leaping goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal punched the ball rather feebly in the path of the Aussie striker who slammed home first time.
Job done, Rooney left the field for Robin Singh as coach Ashley Westwood opted for a pair of fresh legs to up the pace.
Bengaluru had a few more chances thereafter to increase the lead, especially when Vineeth had Mondal at his mercy but the East Bengal goalkeeper dived left to bring off a great save.
At the other end, the home goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte was asked a few questions, but stood up well in parrying shots by the rival forwards.
On resumption, East Bengal showed urgency for the equalizer as did the Blues in quest of another goal. It resulted in some fast exchanges, but the hosts always seemed to be in control.
Past the hour, Eugeneson Lyngdoh put Chhetri in possession and the captain blasted a left-footer past Mondal to put the Blues 2-0 ahead while all but sealing the game.
A limping Chhetri left the pitch soon after for Beikhokhei Beingaichho, but there was no let-up in Bengaluru FC attacks with Udanta Singh who had come off the bench for Vineeth nearly scored after breaking through, but his shot to near post was well collected by Mondal.
East Bengal then had their best chance of the game when Dudu got to a lob from the right, but headed straight to Ralte who blocked, but luckily for the Blues, the Nigerian striker failed to slot the ball home from barely a couple of yards out before the goalkeeper managed to collect.
Robin Singh then struck the third after going in on a through ball by Joshua Walker and waltzing past two defenders and goalkeeper Mondal to slot home.