Preliminary Stage 2 - 1st Leg: Paro FC 0-1 JSW Bengaluru FC
Thimphu: Thongkhosiem Haokip struck in the second half to hand India's JSW Bengaluru FC a vital 1-0 win over Paro FC of Bhutan in the first leg of the 2020 AFC Cup Preliminary Stage 2 on Wednesday.
Paro kicked off the match at the Changlimithang Stadium in high spirits after progressing to the second preliminary round on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate score against Sri Lanka's Defenders FC last week, and dominated proceedings in the opening minutes.
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Bengaluru relied heavily on long-range crosses to reach the final third, but fine defending from the Bhutan Premier League champions denied the 2016 runners-up opportunities up front.
With star striker Sunil Chhetri on the bench, Thongkhosiem Haokip and Spaniard Nili bore the burden of creating opportunities up front, but Paro were the side that kept pressing for the opening goal.
The goalless stalemate was broken eight minutes into the second half when Haokip beat the offside trap to receive a perfectly timed through ball, before beating Paro goalkeeper Tobgay with a chipped effort.
Carles Cuadrat reinforced Bengaluru's attacking prowess with the introduction of Chhetri, who replaced Roshan Singh in the 63rd minute, but the Blues struggled to extend their lead as Paro searched for the equaliser.
Buoyed by a partisan crowd in the stands, Paro continuously created chances from the right flank but the Indian Super League champions held on to seal an important away win.
Bengaluru will be hoping to maintain their fine form when they host the return leg next week in Bangalore, India.
Photos: Paro FC
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