Sunil Chhetri assisted three goals and scored his team's fourth as Bengaluru FC registered a dominant 4-0 win over Abahani Dhaka at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Bangladesh on Wednesday. Aizawl's 2-1 win over New Radiant in the other Group E fixture on the day means Bengaluru have progressed into the inter-zone playoff semifinals of the 2018 AFC Cup.
Daniel Segovia broke the deadlock early in the first-half before Nishu Kumar picked up a brace. Chettri scored the fourth in a largely one-sided contest.
Albert Roca made just one change to the starting lineup that thrashed Aizawl 5-0 earlier this month. Haokip was replaced by Harmanjot Khabra and Rahul Bheke partnered Juanan in defence. Daniel Segovia continued up front and was flanked by Udanta Singh and Sunil Chhetri. Erik Paartalu screened the defence in the centre of midfield.
Coach Bari Titu made three alterations to the side that was at the receiving end of a 1-5 thrashing from New Radiant in their last AFC Cup match. Nasiruddin Chowdhury, Tutul Badsha and Rubel Miya came into the side.
Bengaluru kicked off on a bright note with Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh combining well in the attacking third to supply Daniel Segovia. Their efforts were rewarded with an opening goal in the 13th minute.
Victor Perez played the ball out to Chhetri on the left. The skipper's cross found Segovia inside the box whose easily tapped the ball into the net to make it 1-0. Without resting on their one-goal lead, the Blues struck again three minutes later.
Chhetri turned provider again, this time to pick out the run of Nishu Kumar whose right-footed effort found the bottom left corner as Bengaluru FC doubled their lead in the 16th minute.
Abahani failed to get back into the game after two quick goals from the visitors. Bengaluru FC, knowing they cannot afford to lose their grip on the game, kept their feet on the gas pedal.
Sunil Chhetri was at the forefront of Bengaluru's forays forward and troubled the Abahani defenders all game. The Blues' top goalscorer completed his hat-trick of assists by helping Nishu Kumar score his second goal in the 58th minute.
A deft lob over the Abahani defence fell into the path of the full-back who slotted past the goalkeeper to make it 3-0. Two minutes later, Sunil Chhetri registered his name on the scoresheet.
A mistake by the goalkeeper Shahidul Alam allowed Chhetri to get to the ball and place it into the back of the net.
Aizawl's 2-1 win over New Radiant helped Bengaluru qualify from Group E into the playoff semifinals which will take place from August 21, 2018.