Bengaluru FC were crowned as I-League football champions for the second time in three years as they blanked Salgaocar 2-0 in their penultimate league match on Sunday.
Eugenson Lyngdoh (8th minute) and Seminlen Doungel (87th) scored for Bengaluru as Ashley Westwood-coached side took full three points to clinch their second I-League title in front of their home crowd at the Kanteerava Stadium.
They had won their maiden crown in 2013-14 season and had finished second last season (2014-15) behind Mohun Bagan.
With 32 points from 15 matches, Bengaluru took an unassailable five point lead from currently second-placed Mohun Bagan (27 points from 15 matches) with one match to spare.
This means that their last league fixture against Mohun Bagan on April 23 in Siliguri has been rendered inconsequential as far as I-League title is concerned.
But that match will have importance for deciding the second-place finisher as East Bengal (25 points from 15 matches) are currently at third just two points behind Mohun Bagan.
East Bengal can finish at second if they beat Shillong Lajong in their last match on April 24 in Shillong and Mohun Bagan lose against Bengaluru.
Seeking to clinch the title today itself, Westwood fielded the first choice eleven for the clash with Curtis Osano and John Johnson returning to the fold as centre halves with Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Michael Collins manning the midfield.
Youngster Malsawmzuala got a start with Udanta Singh as the wingmen. Skipper Sunil Chhetri combined with Korean Kim Seong Yong to form the attacking nucleus of the ‘Blues’.
It took just eight minutes for Bengaluru FC to open the scoring through Eugeneson Lyngdoh. The India midfielder scored his third goal in his comeback from injury as he latched onto a loose ball from Salgaocar goalkeeper Karanjit Singh’s punch off a cross from the left.
Unmarked 25 yards out, Lyngdoh drove it straight across the ground with a right footer to take the early lead and leave the Goans fluttered.
Salgaocar tried to make a comeback as Jackichand Singh made his way past a couple of defenders but Amrinder Singh was quick to get onto the ball. Thangjam Saran Singh was booked after he brought down Udanta Singh during a Lyngdoh freekick and Salgaocar never really pressed after that during the first half.
Kim Seong Yong could have added the second goal for Bengaluru but was blocked by Leny Pereira and on the second attempt off it, Eder did well to deny Sunil Chhetri from close range.
Six minutes past the half hour mark, Salgaocar keeper Karanjit pulled off fine save, diving to his left to deny Michael Collins.
After some lighting related interruption, the second half started with Salgaocar tried to break the resolute Bengaluru defense but were unable to create much of an impact with their attempts.
Skipper Chhetri set up the second goal for Bengaluru which sealed the title three minutes from time. After a fine move at the left channel, Chhetri squared the ball into the box and with Salgaocar keeper Karanjit out of his line, substitute Seminlen Doungel was there to calmly dab the ball into the open net.
The Kanteerava crowd erupted to wild cheers as the referee blew the whistle.
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