·23 December 2022
·23 December 2022
Hyderabad FC took the provisional top spot in the ISL 2022-23 league standings with a 0-3 victory against Bengaluru FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Friday, December 23.
Although the Blues showed a lot of control in the middle, they lacked the attacking firepower to neutralize a first-half brace from Bartholomew Ogbeche and a late goal from Joel Chianese.
With both teams wary of each other's attacking prowess, the game unraveled as a plodding affair in the opening exchanges. Simon Grayson's side dominated the proceedings but neither team managed to create anything significant. At least until the 26th minute.
Just nearing the half-hour mark, the Nizams won a free-kick just outside the opposition box. Three players stood over it. After a well-worked set-piece routine, Ogbeche unleashed a low-driven effort from outside the box to beat a helpless Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. With the lethal strike, the Nigerian talisman ended his seven-game goal drought and finally got the monkey off his back.
Stunned by the against-the-run-of-play goal, Bengaluru FC reacted quickly but ineffectively through Roy Krishna and Sunil Chhetri. Just when it seemed like the reigning champions would go into half-time with just a one-goal lead, Ogbeche fired again.
Right at the stroke of half-time, the talismanic Hyderabad FC forward won possession in the middle of the park and created an attacking move out of nothing. Siverio received the ball from the Nigerian and carried it deep into the opposition's half before laying it off for Halicharan Narzary.
The explosive winger darted in a cross into the box and picked out the former Kerala Blasters striker. Ogbeche, with great composure, headed the ball towards the far post, and Sandesh Jhingan, attempting a wild clearance, could only direct it into his own net. Just like that, the visitors had secured a 2-0 lead.
Although they had conceded the two goals, Bengaluru FC had the lion's share of possession in the first half and showed a commendable level of grit. Hence, the game was far from over for the Blues.
Simon Grayson opted for three quick substitutions to freshen up the team. Aleksandar Jovanovic, Naorem Roshan Singh, and Danish Farooq made way for Alan Costa, Udanta Singh, and Pablo Perez.
However, Hyderabad FC continued to steal chances despite Bengaluru FC's intensity. First, Siverio came close to scoring before he headed a Borja Herrera cross wide. Then, Ogbeche was denied by Gurpreet, who parried away a vicious effort from the Nigerian into the post.
In the 72nd minute, Udanta Singh had an opportunity to pull a goal back for Bengaluru FC when Namgyal Bhutia put him through. But the experienced winger drilled in a low shot and hit the wrong side of the post.
Javi Hernandez also had a glorious opportunity in the dying moments of the game, after a brilliant bit of footwork from Siva Sakthi. But the Spaniard skied his effort.
That summed up the story of the match for the Blues. To add insult to injury, Hyderabad FC scored a third through Joel Chianese in the 90th minute. Abdul Rabeeh darted down the right flank before laying the ball off for fellow substitute Chianese, who calmly tucked it home.
The win puts the Nizams at the top of the points table with 25 points, just a point ahead of Mumbai City FC, who have a game in hand. Meanwhile, Bengaluru FC are still in eighth spot with 10 points.
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