An inspired last 16 minutes with a delightful Sunil Chhetri (74th) finish and a debut goal in a Blues’ shirt for Salam Ranjan (90th) saw Bengaluru claw back from two goals down to end things at 2-2 against DSK Shivajians at the Balewadi Stadium here on Sunday.
The draw leaves the defending champions on fifth position in the League standings with 10 points from six games.
With John Johnson serving a suspension, Albert Roca handed Keegan Pereira and Salam their first starts of the season while Sena Ralte was named on the bench.
In a first half that belonged to the hosts, Amrinder Singh turned up with a brilliant save off the line with his feet from a Holicharan Narzary shot in the 3rd minute.
Juan Quero then had a shot come off the crossbar before Juan Gonzalez killed danger with a perfectly timed slide to get to the ball after Kim Song-Yong’s low cross had got past Amrinder across the face of the goal.
Bengaluru had a big chance of their own when Eugeneson Lyngdoh combined well with Vineeth before seeing a low drive whiz past the goal, needing only a Bengaluru touch to make it count.
Having done well to keep the hosts at bay, the Bengaluru defence had a moment of horror as DSK got the lead in the 40th minute.
Keegan, in failing to read Quero’s pass for Narzary, drew Amrinder off his line only for the DSK striker to get the ball at his feet and an empty goal at his mercy from where he made no mistake.
Struggling to string together attacks and looking completely bereft of ideas, Bengaluru were further pegged back in the 55th minute when Milan Singh’s long ball over Bengaluru’s high line of defence clipped Ranjan’s leg before rolling on to Narzary’s path.
With only Amrinder to beat, the young striker put it through the keeper’s legs to make it 2-0.
But just when it seemed like the hosts were coasting with the game, Bengaluru pulled one back in the 74th minute through Sunil Chhetri. Picked up by a smart ball from Cameron Watson, the Blues’ skipper brought the ball down deftly with his chest before calmly putting it past Paul.
Throwing everything they had at the DSK defence, the Blues attacked with intent as shots from Chhetri and Vineeth were blocked away. The pressure paid off for the away side, as a corner swung in by Cameron Watson in the dying minutes was nodded home by Ranjan to bring things level.
Roca’s side would have walked away with the three points but for Lenny Rodrigues’ attempt in the dying minutes which struck the DSK woodwork as Chhetri’s attempted shot from the rebound hit a DSK player.