Bengaluru FC knock out Kitchee to reach quarters

Kitchee suffered a surprise round of 16 exit at the hands of India’s Bengaluru FC in the AFC Cup.

In a pulsating encounter at Mong Kok Stadium, the visitors won 3-2, booking their place in the last eight in only their third year in existence.

In the first 30 minutes, it looked like the Hong Kong side were going to race away with a win after a one-man show from forward Rufino.

Nodding in Lo Kwan Yee’s cross in the opening five minutes gave the Spaniard his sixth goal in seven matches.

As the home side dominated possession for much of the first-half, Rufino ran riot.

The momentum suddenly shifted when Li Ngai Hoi brought down Eugeneson Lyngdoh in the box and captain Sunil Chhetri converted the resulting spot kick to make it 1-1.

Kitchee were left shell-shocked just minutes later as the skipper headed in his second from Rino Anto’s cross from the right.

Playing with confidence, the Bangalore side looked to impose their lead going into half-time. A coolly dispatched finish from Jordi Tarrés, however, brought Kitchee level just before the break.

Parity was short-lived for Hong Kong Barça as a disastrous back pass from Christian Annan allowed Daniel Lalhlimpuia to smuggle the ball past a flailing Wang Zhenpeng and into the empty net.

Chhetri almost put the game beyond all doubt on the 70-minute mark only to sky it from 10 yards.

With 10 minutes to go, and despite an additional five minutes, The Blues held on to record a remarkable upset and progress to the quarter-finals.

Kitchee will rue not making possession count, especially with Rufino in fine form.

Bengaluru join South China, Tampines Rovers and Johor Darul Ta’zim in the last eight.

Cameron Tucker