Bengaluru: Simon Grayson’s Bengaluru FC added to their winning streak, sending FC Goa out of the running for a spot in the Indian Super League playoff with a 3-1 result at the Kanteerava Stadium here on Thursday.
Striker Sivasakthi Narayanan scored a brace while Spanish midfielder Pablo Perez added another off the bench to seal an eighth successive win for the Blues, a club record in the tournament.
The visitors came into the game looking for a win, one that would guarantee their spot in the playoffs.
The Blues, meanwhile, were after three points that would see them extend their winning streak to eight games.
Earlier, Grayson made two changes to his side, as striker Roy Krishna and defender Parag Shrivas returned in place of Sandesh Jhingan and Javi Hernandez, both at risk of suspension.
The Blues made the perfect start as Roshan Singh’s corner was headed in by Sivasakthi in the sixth minute. The attacking threat continued as a free-kick, delivered by Roshan again, was met by Sunil Chhetri, but the skipper’s effort was parried away by FC Goa ’keeper Dheeraj Singh.
The visitors had their first big chance when Redeem Tlang unleashed a shot from 25 yards which forced Bengaluru ’keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu into a sharp save, diving low to his left.
The Gaurs eventually equalized when Spanish striker Iker Guarrotxena found himself in space in the box, and headed home a cross from Noah Sadaoui to register his 11th goal of the League season.
Bengaluru pushed forward, but came up against a stubborn Goa backline manned by Anwar Ali and Syrian Fares Arnaout, as both sides made their way back down the tunnel with the scores level.
Into the second period, the Blues had a chance to get themselves back into the lead in the 54th minute as Roy Krishna’s attempt to control the ball off a long pass threatened to trickle into the net past Dheeraj, but it wasn’t to be as the ball went agonizingly wide for the Blues.
Both sides turned to the bench, with the home side being the first to go in the 58th minute, as Grayson brought on Pablo Perez and Jayesh Rane in place of Sunil Chhetri and Rohit Kumar respectively. The Gaurs made their changes just past the hour mark as Hernan Santana and Nikhil Prabhu replaced Fares Arnaout and Ayush Dev Chhetri.
Despite chances being few and far between in the second half, Bengaluru once again took the lead in the 76th minute. Suresh Wangjam’s sweet strike was saved by Dheeraj, but the Goa ‘keeper’s stop fell into the path of Sivasakthi who made no mistake to slot home and claim his brace.
The Blues continued to press on and netted the third in the 81st minute when Roy Krishna skipped past his marker to find Pablo Perez. The Spaniard placed his shot to perfection into the top right corner for his second League goal.
Grayson made his final changes of the night bringing on Udanta Singh and Leon Augustine for Roy Krishna and Roshan Singh as the Blues saw out the game to finish their League campaign with another win.
Bengaluru provisionally moved into third spot with 34 points and will now await confirmation on their opponents and the venue of their eliminator.