Bengaluru FCs 24 years old Thongkhosiem Haokip’s support to control the test of TC Sports Club 3-2 in the first leg of a thrilling AFC play-off game at the National stadium in Male on Tuesday. Despite the absence of Captain Sunil Chetri, Albert Roca’s side had to stave off a late resurgence from the hosts after having a comfortable 2-0 advantage until a shocking 2 goals in five minutes to level the game and later made a difficult encounter to win the game.
After a goalless first half in which both teams struggled to find the back of the net, Bengaluru FC took the lead in the 52nd minute Haokip nodded home a Toni Dovale free-kick which Rahul Bheke managed to deflect towards him. And when Erik Paartulu scored the second with another header off a Dovale set-piece in the 69th minute, it looked like the visitors were in control.
However then started the real drama when Bengaluru players dropped their guard for a while and paid the price for it as the hosts scored twice in two minutes. Antolii Vlasichev first reduced the margin in the 71st minute by slotting home his fifth goal of the campaign and Ibrahim Mahudhee then pounced on an defensive error to shoot past Lalthuammawia Ralte.
Later again, former East Bengal striker Haokip found the net in the 78th minute with a brilliant solo goal from outside the box to go home with a win.
The reverse leg of the match will be played on 20th February at Bengaluru.