FC Bengaluru beat Indian Air Force 4-2 to become the first team to enter the knockouts of the 2021 Durand Cup on Thursday. In the Group A encounter at the Kalyani Stadium, Spaniard Pedro Manzi scored twice and created two for Yumnam Gopi Singh to score to help Bengaluru overcome a spirited Air Force side.
The Air Force players, in fact, dominated large parts of the second half, but with the loss, have crashed out of contention despite a game left in the group stages.
Bengaluru beat CRPF 1-0 in their first Group A game and now have a full six points from two more than enough to make it to the quarterfinals. The Indian Air Force went down 1-4 to Mohammedan Sporting in their opener.
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Air Force had a chance to go ahead in the first minute of the game when Vivek found himself behind the Bengaluru defense and in the clear but he could not convert the opportunity.
Manzi then scored for Bengaluru from the spot in the 21st minute. The penalty was awarded when Air Force defender Davinder was ruled to have handled the ball inside the box.
Bengaluru then doubled their advantage seven minutes later with Manzi, the provider, finding Gopi Singh with a fine ball to catch the Air Force defense napping. Gopi took one touch to go away from an onrushing Subhajit Basu in goal to calmly slot it in.
Three minutes before half time, Vivek got one back for Air Force, latching on to a cross from Prabhjot. Vivek took a touch in the six-yard box to go past goalkeeper Kunzang Bhutia and score.
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That goal inspired Air Force, who came out a transformed side after the break. They dominated proceedings for a good half an hour. Vivek got his second -- the equaliser -- from a corner by Shahbaaz. He leapt above the Bengaluru defense to head past Bhutia.
Vivek missed his hattrick several times including one just a minute after his second goal, Even Prabhjot and Saurav Sadhukan squandered chances.
Bengaluru then went ahead, almost against the run of play, in the 72nd minute. The Manzi-Gopi combination struck again. Manzi then got his second of the game in injury tim.
Army Red Beat Assam Rifles
Army Red Football Team displayed brilliant team work to defeat the Assam Rifles Football Team 4-1 and earn three valuable points in a Group D encounter at the Vivekananda Yubabharati Krirangan (VYBK) on Thursday.
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This was also the first all regimental affair in this edition of the Durand Cup. The two military teams have been drawn in Group D alongside Gokulam Kerala FC and Hyderabad FC.
Liton Shil, Bikash Thapa, Sushil Shah and the captain Nongmeikapam Suresh were the heroes who scored for Army Red while Samujal Rabha scored the solitary goal for Assam Rifles.
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