Indian Football

Bengaluru FC create history to become first Indian team to qualify for AFC Cup final after 3-1 win

The Bengaluru skipper scored twice before Juan Antonio added the third goal after going behind against Johor Darul Ta'zim early in the game.

Bengaluru FC became the first Indian side to book a place in the AFC Cup finals as a Sunil Chhetti brace and a third goal from Juan Antonio gave them a 3-1 win over defending champions Johor Darul Ta'zim in the 2nd leg semi-final at home. Benglauru went behind through Johor's Safiq Rahim scoring early in the first half. The two teams were deadlocked 1-1 after the first leg.

The boisterous crowd at the Kanteerava stadium had gone silent when Ta'zim playmaker Safiq Rahim pounced on a rebound to net the first goal of the game. Amrinder Singh was culpable for the goal, parrying it straight to the Johor skipper. Such was Bengaluru's dominance with the ball at their feet.

Juan Antonio marshalled the backline with authority, Chettri was at his menacing best and Eugeneson Lyngdoh's pace on the flanks is something that Johor struggled with all evening. Cameron Watson provided tremendous industry, tirelessly covering ground.

Conceding an early goal and letting their opponents into the contest didn't faze the home side, who relentlessly pressed for the equaliser. The signs were ominous for Johor when, around the half-hour mark, Chhetri smashed the bar from a tight angle from the right. Bengaluru, though, should have done better with the rebound with CK Vineeth and Lyngdoh failing to land the decisive touch.

Chhetri would make amends and score the equaliser, five minutes from the half-time whistle. Johor's slack marking was punished by the Bengaluru skipper, who headed away Lyngdoh's pin-point inswinging corner into the roof of the net.

Bengaluru pressed for the second goal and just minutes into the second half, Chhetri cut in from left but his curler went a couple of feet wide of the post. Bengaluru dominated and it was sheer brilliance from Chettri that gave his side the second goal, finding the back of the net from a ferocious shot from 25 yards out.

Bengaluru would ruthlessly punish the away side's marking once again as Juan Antonio, at the far post, found the corner of the net from a free-kick. Once again, Lyngdoh's delivery was spot on. Johor lost their discipline towards the end as Bengaluru held on to create history.

Brief scores:

Bengaluru 3 (Sunil Chhetri x 2, Juan Antonio) beat Johor Darul Ta'zim 1 (Safiq Rahim)

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