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Eugeneson Lyngdoh scored a crucial away goal as Bengaluru FC earned a 1-1 draw against reigning champion Johor Darul Ta’zim in their AFC Cup semifinal first-leg match at the Larkin Stadium here on Wednesday.
The mid-fielder’s 56th minute equaliser — a left-footed effort from almost 30 yards out — sets up the return leg in Bengaluru on October 19 rather nicely, where even a goal-less draw will be enough to send BFC through to the final.
Manager Albert Roca made a solitary change from the team which drew against Tampines Rovers in Singapore in the quarterfinal second-leg last week.
Salam Ranjan came in for left-back Nishu Kumar and then swapped positions with regular right-back Rino Anto as BFC lined up in a 3-5-2 set-up.
The start would have no doubt pleased Roca with his wards refusing to sit back. There were even a couple of half chances early on with Sunil Chhetri, Eugeneson and John Johnson all in the mix.
The hosts slowly played themselves into the match but found a match in the resolute Amrinder Singh, the BFC goalie.
He first denied a headed effort from Juan Lucero from point-blank range and then kept him out again in the 44th minute.
However, on 52 minutes, it was the other Argentine, Jorge Pereyra Diaz, who broke Amrinder’s resistance when he nodded home from a corner.
Barely four minutes later, Lyngdoh cancelled out Johor’s lead and handed BFC a slender advantage going into the second leg. Johor will be without both Lucero and Diaz as the two picked up their second bookings in the knock-out stages.
“After going 1-0 down, to come away with a draw is always difficult,” said Roca.
“A few individual mistakes allowed them to take control of the game and score.
“At half time, we adjusted a little bit and I think we did quite well and came out with the result we deserved.”
Johor Darul Ta’zim 1 (Jorge Pereyra Diaz 52) drew with Bengaluru FC (Eugeneson 56).