Bengaluru cruise past Tribhuvan to stay on AFC Cup group stage course

Bengaluru FC of India turned on the power in the second half to defeat Nepal’s Tribhuvan Army FC 5-0 in their 2021 AFC Cup Preliminary Round 2 tie at the GMC Stadium in Goa on Wednesday.

Bengaluru will now face the winners of next week’s Preliminary Round 2 tie between Bangladesh’s Abahani Dhaka Limited and Club Eagles of the Maldives, with the victors advancing to Group D where India’s ATK Mohun Bagan, Bashundhara Kings of Bangladesh and Maldives’ Maziya Sports & Recreation await.

Bengaluru started on the front foot and dominated possession as Tribhuvan were forced to defend deep.

Captain Sunil Chhetri, recently recovered from COVID-19, had an opportunity to test Tribhuvan’s resolve but his cross from the left was safely gathered by goalkeeper Biwash Chaudhary.

Bengaluru kept pressing and they came within a whisker of the opener in the 23rd minute but Udanta Singh’s cross just eluded Chhetri and Cleiton Augusto.

Chhetri had Bengaluru’s best chance just before the break but Tribhuvan goalkeeper Chaudhary parried away his attempt.

Having been denied by Tribhuvan in the first half, Bengaluru started with added urgency when play resumed and took the lead in the 51st minute with Rahul Bheke nodding home Cleiton’s corner.

That opened the floodgates as Chhetri doubled Bengaluru’s lead just a minute later, slotting home from close range.

Their appetites whetted, Bengaluru poured forward and Chhetri turned contributor for their third in the 61st minute, flicking the ball towards Cleiton, who beat two defenders and the goalkeeper before rolling the ball home.

Cleiton scored his second in the 65th minute, with Bheke making it 5-0 just seconds later as Bengaluru advanced to the playoff in style.

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