Bengaluru FC have edged past a valiant Mumbai City FC in the finals of the Durand Cup at the Salt Lake Stadium. This was the only trophy left in Bengaluru FC captain, leader and legend Sunil Chhetri’s cabinet and now he has completed the entire haul. The Blues have simply been outstanding. With their new manager Simon Grayson at the helm they have managed to control the tempo of the game exceptionally well.
It was obviously a night for their young goalscorer Siva Sakthi who handed the Blues the early lead in the 10th minute after leaving Mourtada Fall blank with a smart move enroute to the opener. However Lalengmawia responded for Mumbai City FC right at the half hour mark.
Speaking more about the Siva Sakthi strike, the youngster was exceptional in this Durand Cup and the entire country is excited to see what he brings to the table with his intricate passing, brilliant link up and smart movements in the final third. This time he bamboozled Fall with his movement as the long ball from Jovanovic reached Siva and he calmly slotted it past Phurba Lachenpa to put Grayson’s men 1-0 up in the finals.
However, the Islanders showed tremendous fight but were not finding their way past a very tight Bengaluru FC defence that had Jovanovic, Alan Costa and Sandesh Jhingan at the heart. But it was Lallianzuala Chhangte who almost had the equaliser in the 17 minute with his brilliant movement. The former Chennaiyin FC winger has had a brilliant tournament and he would have been happier if he had made an impact in the finals.
Des Buckingham’s men finally scored the equaliser at the half hour mark when Jhingan conceded a freekick in a very dangerous area. Ahmed Jahouh made no mistake in finding Greg Stewart who waltzed past the midfield before unleashing a strong effort on target. But it was straight at Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and one expects the Indian No. 1 to thwart the danger away or rather gather the ball for safety. The custodian parried right into the path of Apuia who stabbed the ball back in to register his name into the scoresheet.
In the 38th minute, the Islanders had to thank Chhangte for his brilliance in defence as he saved a sure goal right off the line. The winger cleared away a well worked move which swaw Naorem Roshan Singh deliver a fine corner and Roy Krishna combining as the Blues were inches away from taking the lead again.However the game went into halftime with the scores tied and second half promising a lot more.
The intensity of the game was similar in the second half as this time Jahouh’s long ball reached Chhangte who did a splendid job in getting away from the Bengaluru FC defenders and with only the goalkeeper to beat, Chhangte skied the ball way over the bar. A lot more was expected from the tournament’s Golden Boot winner in the finals.
But Bengaluru FC made Mumbai City FC pay for missing easy chances as Brazilian centre back Alan Costa found the winner with a brilliant header from a Sunil Chhetri corner. The Blues were well ahead and with the Islanders pushing forward in search of an equalizer, Chhetri had an opportunity to register his name in the scoresheet as he wriggled past a couple of defenders before slamming it on target. While most of the fans thought it had gone in, Phurba Lachenpa came up with a brilliant save to deny the talisman.
But the disappointment of missing the goal did not last long as Bengaluru FC were crowned the Durand Cup Champions and coach Simon Grayson and his men have made a statement that in the coming they are going to be the team to beat in this season’s Indian Super League.