ISL 2019: Rahul Bheke’s extra time header wins Bengaluru FC maiden titlehttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/indian-super-league/isl-2019-bengaluru-fc-beat-fc-goa-1-0-in-extra-time-crowned-champions-5630960/

ISL 2019: Rahul Bheke’s extra time header wins Bengaluru FC maiden title

Bengaluru FC on Sunday beat FC Goa 1-0 in extra time to emerge as the new champions of Indian Super League 2019. This is the maiden title for the Blues, who became a part of the tournament last year.

Bangaluru’s Rahul Bheke celebrates after scoring goal against Goa, during the final of Indian Super League in Mumbai. (Source: AP)

120 minutes of football was played, over a thousand passes were made, most of it by FC Goa and five times the ball was hit towards the goals on both sides. At the end of it all, it was one header by Rahul Bheke that mattered. About four minutes before the end of the 30 minutes of extra time in Mumbai, Dimas Delgado sprayed a to the edge of the box where Bheke was standing. He rose, worked his neck muscles to the limit and directed the ball to the right of Naveen Kumar. He had stood like a rock for his team throughout the game but so well directed was that header from Bheke, that even a full stretch dive could only let Naveen get his fingertips to the ball. It bounced off the inside of the bar and, cruelly for FC Goa who had dominated large parts of the second half of the match, went into goal.

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The two teams were locked 0-0 after 90 minutes. Even the first extra time saw no goals but Bengaluru got better of a 10-men Goan team 1-0, four minutes from the end of the second extra half. Goa’s mid-fielder Ahmed Jahouh was shown a second yellow card and he had to walk out as the side was reduced to 10 men.

It looked Goa defenders would take the game into the penalties but Bheke looped a header on a corner kick from Dimas Delgado and it went past custodian Naveen Kumar, triggering celebrations in the Bengaluru camp.

Earlier, both the teams began with caution. Goa earned a corner early in the game but Edu Bedia’e header went wide at a nearly packed Mumbai Football Arena. Bengaluru had a chance when mid-fielder Nishu Kumar sent Sunil Chhetri through with a lobbed pass. The skipper passed it to Miku, who cut past three players and shot, but Goa custodian Naveen collected it safely.

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In the 24th minute, Bengaluru had another chance. Xisco played Chhetri down the flank and the captain sent a cross in the box to Miku but his header sailed above the bar. Two minutes later, Miku had another close chance, but Goa’s defence did well to clear it.

Bengaluru strikers kept Goa’s defence and Naveen Kumar on their toes, but still both the sides were searching for their first goal after 35 minutes. Goa received a setback when their skipper and mid-fielder Mandar Rao Dessai had to be stretchered out as he pulled his hamstring just before the conclusion of the first half.

Goa did have a few chances in the first half, but they failed to convert any. After the change of ends, Goa upped the ante and their best chance came in the 58th minute when Brandon Fernandes swung a cross for Bedia, but the Spanish mid-fielder couldn’t get a touch on to it.

In the 67th minute, aggressive mid-fielder Jackichand Singh played the ball to Ahmed Jahouh outside the box, and the Moroccon tried to slot one in the top corner but ended up side footing to the keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

In the additional time of the second half, Bengaluru had another close chance. Nishu Kumar crossed the ball into the box and Miku zoomed past the defenders. He took a touch and shot but Mourtada Fall got into the way as Bengaluru earned a corner. After 90 minutes, the two sides were still locked 0-0. In the first ‘extra’ time, Bengaluru survived a near scare when Luisma headed the ball back to Gurpreet but the experienced keeper collected safely.