Bengaluru FC's quest to land the Indian Super League (ISL) title in their debut campaign ended without fruition on what turned out to be a dismal night for the Blues faithful at the Kanteerava stadium on Saturday.
They went down 3-2 to their South Indian neighbours Chennaiyin FC who clinched their second ISL title.
While the scoreline pointed towards a tight clash between the two teams, the fact was that after taking an early lead, Bengaluru never looked threatening enough as they struggled to find rhythm in the attacking third.
There is no denying that Chennaiyin FC deserved plaudits for hurting Bengaluru FC on set-pieces and counter-attacks and were deserved winners on the balance of play. But there have been suggestions from several quarters that the Blues should have had a penalty late on and also shouldn't have had Udanta Singh's deflected effort ruled out.
Udanta's effort after being played in on the right wing by Miku, took a big deflection off Henrique Sereno and looped into the goal but the linesman deemed the winger to have been offside in the buildup. Mind you, the score was 2-1 in Chennaiyin's favour then and if it had been given, the dynamics of the tie would have changed.
However, a closer look at the incident shows Udanta was slightly offside during the buildup play and the official, who was in the right position, was justified in ruling the goal out.
The other big incident in the game came in the 90th minute when Inigo Calderon lost his footing inside the box as he attempted to close down Nishu Kumar who was in possession. The Spanish defender, one of the standout players of the final, appeared to have taken the 20-year-old left-back down.
The referee, however, turned a deaf ear to the claims. The score at that juncture was 3-1 in the Super Machans' favour and Bengaluru would reduce the deficit with Miku heading one in a bit later.
One can clearly see in the replays that Calderon makes minimal contact on Nishu, though inadvertently. It could have been a penalty and probably should have been but it was not a blatant decision by the man with the whistle.
We've seen such incidents being punished and also not punished. Nishu's slightly dramatic fall could also have convinced the referee not to award them a penalty.
At any rate, Bengaluru's failure to land the ISL title at home does not stem from these two decisions going against them or the absence of VAR (Video Assistant Referee). But they do from the Blues' haphazard defending from set-pieces, something which was identified as Chennaiyin FC's strength by Sunil Chhetri before the game.
Just saw the highlights - @UdantaK goal was not offside at all - @nishukumar22 should have had a penalty - really tough to take this loss - will officially write to AIFF to use VAR next season in the @IndSuperLeague — Parth Jindal (@ParthJindal11) March 17, 2018