Federation Cup champions Bengaluru FC booked their spot in the Inter-Zonal final of the AFC Cup after holding DPR Korea side April 25 SC to a goalless draw in the second-leg of the semi-finals at the Mayday stadium in Pyongyang.
Head coach Alberto Roca named an unchanged XI from their 3-0 first-leg win at Bengaluru as he persisted with the 4-3-3 formation with Udanta Singh, Sunil Chhetri and Toni Dovale as the front-three.
The DPR Korean side reinstated the top-scorer in the AFC Cup, Kim Yu-Song, in their starting lineup after a slight niggle had prevented him starting in the first-leg.
The Jindal Steel Works (JSW) owned outfit took control of the midfield as their triumvirate of Erik Paartalu, Dimas Delgado and Lenny Rodrigues imposed themselves on their Korean opponents.
The two sides were locked goalless at the interval with chances coming at a premium for either side.
April 25 SC were awarded a penalty in the 76th minute of the game but India number one Gurpreet Singh guessed the correct way to deny the Koreans anyway back into the match.
In the end, goals from Chhetri, Udanta and Lenny Rodrigues in the first-leg proved to be too high a barrier for April 25 to overcome.
The Blues are now one-step closer to repeating their historic run to the final of the AFC Cup final when they became the first Indian side to do so.
Alberto Roca’s men will now face Tajikistan outfit FC Istikol in the Inter-Zonal final in a two-legged tie with the winner advancing to the main final of the AFC Cup where they will face the winners of the West Asia Zonal finals on November 4.
The Tajikistan side were themselves finalists in 2015 and as such will pose a great threat to the Blues . Bengaluru will travel to the central Asian country to play the first-leg on September 27 before hosting them at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on October 18.