Daniel Lalhlimpuia's second-half goal was enough for Bengaluru Football Club to seal a win against Abahani Limited in their AFC Cup group fixture at Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru Wednesday.
Albert Roca fielded a fully revamped starting line-up with the Indian Super League final Saturday in mind. Lalhlimpuia and Thongkhosiem Haokip were fielded upfront with Robinson Singh, Malsawmzuala, Victor Perez and Alwyn George all starting the game as Roca trusted his second-string side to come away with a win.
Saiful Bari Titu made three changes to his lineup after their AFC Cup defeat against New Radiant Sporting Club on March 7. Alison Udoka, Tutul Hossain Badshah and Mamun Mia came into the side for Sajeeb, Saad Uddin and Nwadialu.
In a match that started off with both sides reluctant to take risks, shots on target were few and far in between. The visitor had the first major opening of the match when Mohamed Mia's cross was headed towards the bottom left corner of the net by an alert Seiya Kojima inside the box but Ralte was quick to get down in time to save his effort.
The home side slowly settled into the game as the first half wore on but chances created were mostly from long-range efforts. New signing Victor Perez tried his luck from outside the box but his stinging right-footed effort was blocked. In the 33rd minute, Lalhimpuia's long-range effort flew past goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel who was almost beaten despite his desperate dive.
The second half started just like the first as the persistent midfield battle failed to churn out a clear winner. Daniel Segovia, who was left on the bench by Roca, came into the fray in place of Robinson as the former Barcelona assistant coach looked to up the ante. The substitution worked wonders as Segovia influenced proceedings and ultimately helped the home side break the deadlock.
In the 72nd minute, Alwyn George's cross was headed into the path of Lalhlimpuia by the super-sub. The fox in the box slapped the ball hard into the net to turn match-winner on a difficult Asian cup matchday.
The Bangladeshi league champion's lack of conviction in front of goal made it easier for the Blues to close the game out and secure all three points.