Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson lauded his players for their fighting spirit as the Blues recorded an eighth-straight win in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 by beating FC Goa 3-1 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, here.
In what was an action-packed first half, both teams went level into the break after Iker Guarrotxena cancelled out Sivasakthi Narayanan's early opener. Both sides had their chances in the second half, but quickfire goals from Narayanan and substitute Pablo Perez sealed the tie in Bengaluru FC's favour on Thursday night.
The result put an end to FC Goa's playoff aspirations. On the other hand, Bengaluru FC have now climbed up to third in the ISL standings after a record eight wins on the bounce. Grayson felt his side were sloppy in the first half, but lauded his players for fighting through in the second half.
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"We, at times, got overrun in the middle of the pitch. That's what FC Goa can do to you. If you keep the ball back to good footballing teams, it doesn't matter what team or system you are playing, good sides will always hurt you and make it difficult for you. And that's what they did in the first half," Grayson said in the post-match press conference.
"I made the players realise (at half time) that we haven't played anywhere near to the levels we have played. I expect what they expect from themselves. I don't think we have worked hard as we had done in the last few weeks.. Closing players down, shuffling across, not dropping deep.
There's a lot of things which we have done well that we didn't do tonight. But that also goes down to a little bit of inexperience in the team. Bruno (Ramires) had to play at centre-back. I'm not saying that he is at fault or anything like that, I'm saying that players sometimes have to play in different positions and systems which is not easy to do. But we saw it through and full credit to the players. They kept going and got the result that we did," he added.
Narayanan shone for Bengaluru FC by notching a brace, in what was yet another fantastic display by the youngster. The 22-year-old is Bengaluru FC's joint-highest goalscorer this season alongside Javier Hernandez, with six goals to his name.
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"Siva is a goalscorer. He is always on the move. Nobody would have expected Siva to score the first goal with a header. It was a good delivery but he is always on the move, expecting the ball to land at his feet or in and around him. That's what the kid does. He works hard in training and his stats are higher than anybody. Once you do extra (work), this, that and the other (stuff), you will get rewarded. And he got his (reward) today," Grayson stated.
The Blues have already sealed their place in the playoffs and are currently on a club-record eight-game winning streak.
After a sluggish start to the season, the Blues have bounced back in style to reach the playoffs. They are the only team in 2023 that is yet to face a defeat. Grayson called for his side to stay grounded and play with a mindset to get better in each game.
"There's a fine line between confidence and overconfidence and we have to maintain that level of humbless and level headedness and that certainly won't come from me. They will have their recovery on Sunday and then we will prepare for whenever and wherever we have to play. That's the same sort of attitude that has got us to where we are now," he said.
"The message everytime we leave the dressing room is that we have to be better than the previous game. And that's what we have to keep focusing on. We haven't done anything. We have won eight games which is a great record. We have won the Durand Cup, but that's it. If we want to win anything we got to win a few more games," Grayson concluded.