Sunil Chhetri and Roy Krishna scored a goal each as a 10-man Bengaluru FC overcame some anxious second-half moments to down Jamshedpur FC 2-1 in the Durand Cup in Kolkata on Wednesday. (More Football News)
The much-anticipated pairing of Chhetri and Krishna then got going together to make it 2-0 with the former ATK Mohun Bagan star marksman opening his account in the 56th minute.
Having started from the bench, the marquee Fijian recruit scored just 11 minutes after coming on to the pitch, as he worked in tandem with talismanic skipper Chhetri.
Anticipating Krishna behind him, Chhetri made a perfect run into the Jamshedpur FC box, providing an inch-perfect backheel to the Fijian to do the needful and give them a 2-0 cushion inside the one hour-mark.
But the Blues were in for some jittery moments after their skipper left the field.
Bengaluru's signing from East Bengal, Hira Mondal, who was already on a yellow card, once again caught the eyes of referee Rahul Kumar Gupta to get a second booking as Bengaluru were reduced to 10 players in the 59th minute.
The Red Miners were quick to cash in on their numerical advantage to earn a freekick, resulting in their first goal of the Durand Cup.
Rishi utilised Phijam Vikash Singh's freekick from the right to pull one back as they slowly started to build pressure on Bengaluru.
Under new coach Simon Grayson, Bengaluru FC then bolstered their defence with five men at the back to hold off Jamshedpur FC's late surge, as they looked most threatening from setpieces.
Credit should also be given to their seasoned goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh who stood tall under the bar. With four minutes left on the clock, he palmed away a Rishi corner.
The Blues, who made a quarterfinal (2014) and semifinal (2021) exit in their previous outings, have a new look side at their disposal including their English coach Grayson.
Apart from Hira Mondal, Prabir Das and Krishna, they have also roped in the likes of India centre back Sandesh Jhingan, Javi Hernandez, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Amrit Gope and Faisal Ali.
Jhingan, however, was not part of the side against Jamshedpur FC.