ISL 2018-19: Bengaluru FC’s road to the finalhttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/indian-super-league/bengaluru-fc-road-to-the-isl-2018-19-finals-5629444/

ISL 2018-19: Bengaluru FC’s road to the final

After overturning a 2-1 deficit in the final leg of the semifinal match against NorthEast United, Bengaluru FC marched on to the finals of the Indian Super League for the second consecutive time.

Bengaluru FC marched on to the finals of the Indian Super League for the second consecutive time. (File Photo)

After overturning a 2-1 deficit in the second leg of the semifinal against NorthEast United, Bengaluru FC marched on to the finals of the Indian Super League for the second consecutive time. They will now lock horns with FC Goa at the Mumbai International Arena on March 17. However, dispatching a strong Gaur unit in the summit clash will not be a walk in the park for the Blues.

Here is their road to the finals: 

Bengaluru FC vs Chennaiyin (1-0 win) 

The Blues began their campaign against defending champions Chennaiyin FC at home and made sure that they secure all the three points at the end of 90 minutes. It was an enthralling contest between both the sides and Miku’s solitary goal was the difference between them at the end.

Bengaluru FC vs Jamshedpur FC (2-2 draw)

It was heartbreak for the Blues in their second fixture as Sergio Cidoncha scored deep in stoppage time and robbed Bengaluru FC from securing all three points. Skipper Sunil Chhetri handed the Blues a one-goal advantage in the 88th minute but the team failed to hold onto their slender lead in the dying moments of the match.

Mumbai City vs Bengaluru FC (1-0 loss)

After this fixture, Bengaluru went on a nine-match unbeaten streak before they were halted by Mumbai City FC in their own backyard. Paulo Machado helped Mumbai City eke out a 1-0 win.

Chennaiyin vs Bengaluru FC (2-1 loss)

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Bengaluru’s defense was exposed when a struggling Chennaiyin side stunned the Blues to earn a 2-1 win at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai. Mizo striker Jeje Lalpekhlua and Gregory Nelson scored the opening two goals for the hosts in the first half. However, the Blues showed signs of a strong fightback in the second half as Sunil Chhetri tried to reignite the side with a brilliant diving header. But that was not enough as strong defending by Chennaiyin saw them emerging victorious at the end of the contest.

Bengaluru FC vs Goa (3-0 win)

After tasting their second defeat in the tournament, the Blues were stunned by a stuttering Delhi Dynamos unit. The defence was taken for another task as the team lost 3-2 against Dynamos. However, after being grounded twice in the span of a week, the Sunil Chhetri-led unit once again got back on winning ways as they thumped FC Goa at the Fortress (Bengaluru FC’s home stadium).

The team’s spirit was once again refueled with confidence as a 10-man Bengaluru side went on to coast a thumping 3-0 win over Goa. The win saw them rise back at the top of the table. Nishu Kumar was forced to leave the pitch after getting booked twice in the first half. However, that didn’t damp the team spirit as Juanan, Udanta Singh and Miku registered their name on the scoresheet as the team sailed to a comfortable win and register a playoffs berth.

Jamshedpur FC vs Bengaluru (5-1 loss)

Before the playoffs fixture against NorthEast United, Bengaluru endured their heaviest defeat of the season as they were crushed 5-1 by Jamshedpur FC. Despite taking a lead in the first quarter of the game, the Blues squandered the advantage as they were left tottering by their opponent. The hosts netted four times in just six minutes in the second half to see their team finish their campaign on a high.

Despite losing their final league game, the Blues managed to finish top at the points table with 34 points in 18 matches.

Playoffs

The Blues traveled to Guwahati to play their first-leg of the playoffs against a dominant NorthEast unit. The hosts took a vital one-goal advantage in the 20th minute and dominated over their opponent throughout the contest. However, when the going got tough the skipper, Chhetri, delivered to rescue his team out of danger. The forward mixed up with Xisco Hernandez in the middle and Bengaluru leveled the scoreline in the 82nd minute. But  NorthEast managed to earn a win right in the injury time as the referee signalled to the penalty spot, which was successfully converted by Juan Mascia.

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In the second-leg, Bengaluru had a huge task to overturn the 2-1 deficit and the players hit the pitch with the right intent. They dominated the possession but the first goal of the contest came in the 72nd minute. Dimas Delgado and skipper Chhetri did further damage as Bengaluru eventually won the contest 3-0 and progressed to the finals with 4-2 aggregate scoreline.