Bengaluru FC booked their place in the 2018-19 Indian Super Leagie (ISL) final after beating NorthEast United 3-0 (4-2 on aggregate) in the second leg of their semi-final at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Tuesday.
Bengaluru made one change from their 2-1 defeat to NorthEast United earlier this week, with Xisco Hernandez coming in for Albert Serran.Carles Cuadrat tweaked his line-up and fitted Harmanjot Khabra in defence to enable this.
The visitors made two changes to their team. Bartholomew Ogbeche and Rowllin Borges – who were injured in the first leg – were replaced by Juan Mascia and Fanai Lalrempuia.
The hosts started the game on the front-foot and enjoyed possession of the ball early on. But the first real chance of the game fell to the visitors in the seventh minute when Federico Gallego set up Juan Mascia for a shot that was easily dealt with by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
In the 22nd minute, Nishu Kumar whipped in a pin-point cross to Miku, but the Venezuelan was unable to direct his header on goal. The hosts came ever so close to scoring in the 25th minute as Udanta Singh provided Miku with a low cross, only for the striker to sky it over the bar.
The Blues carried the momentum from the first half as they continued putting pressure on the NorthEast defence right when the referee blew to signal the commencement of the second half. When the clock struck 50 minutes, Nishu unleashed a shot from distance to test Pawan Kumar, who dealt with it brilliantly to keep the score at 0-0.
The best chance of the second half arrived in the 67th minute as a set piece routine for the hosts ended with Khabra setting up Juanan. The Spaniard missed a sitter without Kumar having to break sweat.
Miku finally stamped his name on the fixture in the 72nd minute with an exquisite flick to hit the net following a brilliant low-cross by Udanta.
Delgado put the result of the game beyond doubt in the 87th minute after reacting first to a shot by Udanta that hit the post and slotting home the confirmation goal for Bengaluru.
Skipper Sunil Chhetri hammered the final nail in NorthEast United's coffin by scoring the third goal. Chhetri exchanged a one-two with Udanta and then beat Pawan Kumar and slotted the ball into an empty net.
Eelco Schattorie’s men advanced towards the Bengaluru goal through set-pieces and counter attacks but lacked that final edge. The underdogs of the tournaments bowed out in worthy fashion after a well-fought tie against the league leaders.