ISL- Indian Super League side Bengaluru FC and FC Goa registered clinical victories over Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) and Chennaiyin FC respectively, as the first-ever Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) got underway across two grounds here on Friday.
Bengaluru FC beat RF Young Champs 2-0 with goals from midfielder Bekey Oram (24th) and substitute striker Rahul Raju (90+3) on either side of halftime at the Benaulim ground following FC Goa’s 1-0 win over Chennaiyin in the first game of the inaugural meet.
Goa rode on Jovial Dias‘ second-half strike to log three points, and the two winners on the night face each other on April 19.
Bright start for ISL side Bengaluru
The RF Young Champs, the youngest team in the tournament, put out a strong performance in the second period but a late goal from second-half substitute Raju put paid to their efforts after Oram had given the Blues’ an early lead.
Bengaluru started the game on the front foot creating a lot of chances through Sivasakthi Narayanan, part of their senior team as well, and Huidrom Thoi Singh. At right-back, Namgyal Bhutia also put in a terrific shift to eventually help his side take the lead when a move led to Oram trying his luck from just outside the box, the ball taking a deflection off a RF Young Champs shirt to balloon over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
RF Young Champs got their best chance of the half when Sanan Mohammed K’s header was tipped over the bar after Salman Faris found him with a delectable cross. The second half saw both teams fighting it out in the middle of the park with few injuries to either side affecting the tempo of the game.
Just on the cusp of full time, Bengaluru doubled their margin with substitutes Raju and Omega combining for a goal, the former crossing for the latter inside the area and Raju deftly nodding home from close range.
Dias’ winner was the difference maker
Earlier in the day, FC Goa’s Dias scored from a Vasim Inamdar pass to cap off an impressive outing both for him and the ‘home’ team who bossed possession, especially in the first half, and weathered a flurry of Chennaiyin attacks at the start of the second period to log three points in the first game of the competition.
Goa thought they had taken an early lead when skipper Lesly Rebello smashed home from close only for referee Shantan Agrawal to raise his flag for an offside. Soon after, striker Mevan Dias shot wide from the edge of the box as the Gaurs had Chennaiyin defenders on tenterhooks in a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation.
Chennaiyin sat deep and relied on counterattacks to find a breakthrough, Syed Suhail Pasha firing wide of the target from a Johnson Joseph Mathews pass.
Jovial was in his elements from the off and proved to be a constant menace for Chennaiyin, dropping a shoulder and making an incisive run in the 21st minute to underline his intentions. Both teams went into the break as they were at the start, Chennaiyin trying to find answers to Goa’s slick possession play.
Soon after the breather, Pasha skewed his effort wide while Joseph Lalvenhima saw his shot from close come off his own teammate. Goa coach Deggie Cardozo replaced Velroy Fernandes with Vasim in the 55th minute and the latter did not take much time to swing into action, finding Jovial with a perfectly-timed pass from the left inside channel which the latter toe-poked past an onrushing Samik Mitra under the Chennaiyin bar.