Sporting were held to a 2 – 2 draw by Bengaluru FC in a high voltage Super Sunday clash here at Fatorda. Sporting went up 2 – 0 courtesy goals from Marcus Mascarenhas (19′) and Odafa Okolie (38′) while BFC managed to pull one back through Chhetri at the brink of half-time leaving the scores at 2 – 1 before crossing over. The second half saw Chhetri add one more in the 68th minute which ensured the visitors went home with a point.
Sporting went into the fixture banking on two changes in the form of Marcus and Seriton while BFC brought in Siam J. Hangal and Ralte. Sporting were on the attack right from the start with both Marcus and Mahmoud combining well to add fire power upfront.
Sporting drew the first blood when a good pressure technique by Marcus holed up Ralte off a back pass from Lalchhuanmawia. The panicked keeper tried to make a desperate clearance but Marcus managed to get just enough feet on to the ball to put it back into the BFC nets. Sporting intensified the pressure and managed to create a couple of good chances.
In the 38th Skipper Odafa silenced a vocal set of BFC fans as he latched on to a through ball from Glan to create space for himself before sending in a curling screamer. A sizable number of Sporting fans who had flocked in on Sunday evening erupted in joy as the banter between the home and away fans reached its peak.
BFC were awarded a controversial penalty at the brink of halftime as a 6ft Johnson came down of a rather light touch from Loveday who was shown his first yellow. Sunil Chhetri stepped up and took responsibility sending Arindam the wrong way to pull one goal back for the Blues.
Loveday had to make his long walk back into the tunnel when referee Santosh Kumar gave him his second yellow in less than 2 minutes leaving Sporting down to 10 men once again against Bengaluru.
The initial part of second half saw Bengaluru FC keep most of the ball and exploit their numerical advantage while Sporting unleashed a few counters failing to find the nets. Arindam was having a fantastic match as he pulled out some brilliant saves to keep the visitors at bay. Best save of the evening came in around the 59th minute when a full length dive by Arindam ensured the bullet from Collins boots did not sneak into the Sporting nets.
In the 66th minute a free kick from Fulganco saw Seriton Fernandes making the run through the flanks only to be brought down near the corner flag; A mockery of fair-play saw the BFC players ignore the repetitive appeals from their counter parts who were pointing out towards a troubled winger down at the other end. Clearly taking advantage of a 9 man situation and the distracted Sporting players Chhetri tap home a long range Udanta cross to put things on level terms at Fatorda.
Towards the closing stages the referee Santosh Kumar surprisingly penalised Mahmoud for going down in spite of a tackle from behind by the BFC defender leaving every person present at Fatorda in Orange fuming.
The reminder of the match saw either side play a cautious football with both teams having a few good moments but failing to convert any. With this draw Sporting have 14 points and stay anchored at the 4th spot while BFC have levelled their points at the top.
Speaking to media after the conclusion of today’s match Sporting President Peter Vaz mentioned “For the greater good of Indian Football the referring standards in I-league need to improve drastically. It isn’t one odd incident, we have seen this happen throughout. The Goan teams especially Sporting are at the receiving end always, in the pre-match press conference yesterday even the BFC head coach agreed that we were denied a clear penalty against Mohun Bagan a match we deserved to win. Now here again a series of decisions going against us, I need not say much its right there in front of your eyes.”