Inter-Zone Semi-Final 1st Leg: JSW Bengaluru 2-3 Altyn Asyr
Bengaluru: Turkmenistan’s Altyn Asyr continued their unbeaten run in the 2018 AFC Cup by securing a valuable 3-2 away win over India’s JSW Bengaluru in the first leg of the Inter-Zone Semi-Finals on Wednesday.
The Turkmen side stunned their hosts with an early lead inside 11 minutes after Altymyrat Annadurdyyev’s cross from the left flank was headed away by Bengaluru defender Nishu Kumar into the path of Selim Nurmuradov, who delivered a chipped cross for Vahyt Orazsakhedov who was left with a simple header from point-blank range.
Bengaluru nearly equalised within five minutes when talisman Sunil Chhetri got on the end of a Miku cross, but goalkeeper Mamed Orazmuhamedov produced a stellar reflex save to deny Chhetri’s header.
Orazsakhedov turned from scorer to provider in the 25th minute as he sprayed the ball out on the left wing for Annadurdyyev, who cut inside into the box before beating goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandu at his near post.
The forward’s seventh goal of the campaign took Altyn Asyr into the break with a precious 2-0 away lead.
Altyn Asyr heaped more misery on their hosts right after the restart, as the same attacking duo combined to strike again. Annadurdyyev received the ball centrally and found Orazsakhedov on the left, and the Number 39 drove a low effort that nestled into the back of the net despite Sandhu’s desperate attempt to keep it out.
Rahul Bheke pulled one back for Bengaluru in the 63rd minute following a Xisco corner that was headed against the post by Chhetri. The defender was in the right spot to convert the rebound.
The home side camped in the attacking third and their pressure finally produced a second goal with two minutes to go as Australian midfielder Erik Paartlau powered in a header from Udanta Singh’s cross from the right flank to make it 3-2 at the final whistle.
Bengaluru face an uphill battle next week as they travel to Ashgabat to try and become the first team to defeat Altyn Asyr on their own ground this campaign.