ISL 2023-24: Bengaluru FC keep Playoffs hopes alive with late-goal win over Hyderabad

Bengaluru, Feb 25 (IANS): Sivasakthi Narayanan scored in the 87th minute as Bengaluru FC bounced back to winning ways with a captivating 2-1 victory against Hyderabad FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on Saturday, making more memorable Sunil Chhetri’s 150th appearance in the league, played at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.

Earlier, in the first match of the day, Odisha FC and Mohun Bagan Super Giant played out a goalless draw in Bhubaneswar to maintain top-of-table excitement. Saturday's doubleheader kept up the suspense as Bengaluru maintained their chances of making the playoffs.

There was a lot of attention on the second match of the day and Bengaluru (18) have moved to the eighth spot with this victory, just two short of the sixth-placed Jamshedpur FC, thus helping keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the Playoffs.

For a majority of the match, it appeared that their bid for victory would take a jolt, especially with the deadlock not being broken 70 minutes into the match. However, the final 20 minutes saw an intense back-and-forth battle that saw the struggling Hyderabad FC trail, equalise, and fall back in the proceedings again to return home with no points to their name.

It all started with Spanish midfield maestro Javi Hernandez taking the initiative to open the scoring. Having not conceded any goal for such a major chunk of the match, Hyderabad FC arguably sensed a reasonable chance to get their first win of the game under their belt.

That backfired immediately, with Hernandez recovering possession near the halfway mark, distributing the ball to Oliver Drost on the left flank whilst the former steered ahead to get into the box.

Drost played the perfect foil, delivering a slick delivery right on Hernandez’s path, who smashed the ball in the top left corner in one go! It was an impeccable display of finishing for the attacking midfielder, who has pulled off some spectacular efforts this season already.

However, Hyderabad FC found their calling soon here, with Makan Chothe showing valour in attempting a rather outrageous shot from outside of the box that took Gurpreet Singh Sandhu aback.

The goalkeeper was unable to keep hold of the ball firmly, with it dropping out of his palms to land in Ramhlunchhunga’s path on the right flank. Ramhlunchhunga pounced upon the rebound, hammering the ball into the back of the net to bring curtains down to Hyderabad FC’s unfortunate streak of going five games without scoring a goal.

However, homegrown talent Sivasakthi Narayanan ensured that Bengaluru FC had the last laugh. On a night when his skipper Chhetri brought up his historic feat, Sivasakthi produced a winner in the 87th minute that brought Bengaluru to its feet and assured the supporters that their future was in the right hands.

Possessing the ball on the left flank, Sivasakthi worked his way past his Hyderabad FC markers whilst Chhetri waited for the ball inside the box. The youngster decided otherwise though, launching a shot from outside of the box straight past Laxmikant Kattimani, bringing three points to the beloved fans of the Blues.



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Title: ISL 2023-24: Bengaluru FC keep Playoffs hopes alive with late-goal win over Hyderabad

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