BENGALURU, Jan 26 (IANS): Bengaluru FC returned to the top of the Indian Super League table after a hard-fought 2-1 victory over NorthEast United at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Friday.
Spanish defender Juanan scored the opening goal to give BFC the lead before Marcinho equalised for the visitors from the spot.
But it was BFC skipper Sunil Chhetri who scored the winner to take BFC to the top again.
The victory means BFC are a point above Chennaiyin after the same number of games. The Blues have now won four of their last five matches.
Seminlen Doungel, still fresh from his hat-trick against Chennaiyin FC, tried to go for the spectacular when he went for a back-heeled effort early on.
He was in the thick of the action again, but this time his high-boot led to an innocuous looking free kick for Bengaluru.
Edu Garcia aimed straight for the danger area and Juanan somehow flicked it into the net to give the home side the lead. They almost doubled their lead but Chhetri's low effort was saved by the goalkeeper's foot and then a well-worked free kick was easily defended by NorthEast.
The two chances came immediately after BFC had taken the lead and could have really hurt the visitors. Lenny Rodriguez then set up Garcia with one of the passes of the league but the finish was very poor and didn't do justice to the precise pass.
Juanan had another shy on goal with a header but this time it was just wide. Then Bengaluru gave away a penalty and allowed NorthEast to score completely against the run of play.
It was a soft penalty where Subhasish Bose's arm struck the ball after a sliding tackle. Marcinho blasted the penalty past Gurpreet Singh. The second-half saw Garcia get another chance - but he made things difficult for himself and his attempt to curl the ball into the net went begging.
Minutes later, a cross from Harmanjot Khabra eventually bounced at an odd angle for Chhetri, but he brilliantly scored at the far post - an impeccable finish. Doungel and Cezario were then through on goal with a fine combination but somehow didn't even hit the target.
Most of the final quarter of an hour was about substitutions and a flurry of yellow cards.
Until the 81st minute, when Nirmal Chhetri found John Mosquero who's header went over. NorthEast was creating half chances, but not finishing them.
They would regret that - as the whistle soon went off after the last highlight of the match - when NorthEast could only force a sharp save from Gurpreet.