Super Cup 2018: Sunil Chhetri's hat-trick helps Bengaluru topple NEROCA FC by 3-1
Albert Roca's men booked their spot in the last four of the Super Cup courtesy a hat-trick from Sunil Chhetri..

Bengaluru FC confirmed their spot in the semi-finals of the Super Cup with a 3-1 victory over NEROCA FC in the quarter-finals clash at Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Sunil Chhetri was the hero for the Blues as he completed a stunning hat-trick to lead his side over the line.

Albert Roca made just the one change to the playing XI which started in the win against Gokulam Kerala with Erik Paartalu replacing Toni Dovale in midfield. Venezuelan striker Miku continued to lead the line for the Blues with Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh completing the front three.

For NEROCA, Jean Michael Joachim took his place up top with Felix Odili Chidi, Ningthoujam Pritam Singh and Subash Singh playing behind him in front of a midfield two of Aryn Glen Williams and Jean Vorbe.

Bengaluru FC NEROCA FC Super Cup

It was the Indian Super League (ISL) runners-up who started the match on the front foot with the bulk of the ball possession. Their domination paid off as early as the 13th minute after Udanta Singh beat his marker on the right before delivering a low cross.

NEROCA custodian Lalit Thapa got a punch to the cross but could only deflect it on to the path of Chhetri at the far post and the India talisman made no mistake with a diving header to put Bengaluru ahead.

Miku had another attempt for Roca’s men minutes later after he executed a great turn in the box before blasting the ball high over the crossbar. Bengaluru continued to raise the tempo as the I-League runners-up had started seeing more of the ball.

There was some trouble for Bengaluru in the 38th minute when defender John Johnson’s weak header towards goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh was almost intercepted by Joachim. With NEROCA looking devoid of ideas in the final third, it was going to take an error from the Bengaluru defence to gift them an opening.

Bengaluru FC NEROCA FC Super Cup

That is exactly what happened right at the stroke of half-time with India No1 Gurpreet Singh committing a big howler. The Bengaluru goalkeeper spilt a straightforward free-kick from Aryn Williams and an onrushing Pritam Singh made no mistake in slotting the loose ball into the net to draw parity for his side.

Bengaluru did not have to wait too long in the second-half to restore their advantage with Chhetri scoring his second goal of the day in the 55th minute. Playing off the shoulders of last man Gourmangi Singh, the India skipper raced past the defender to get on the end of a first-time lob over the back-four.

Remaining ice-cool in the face of an onrushing Thapa, Chhetri calmly chipped the ball over the NEROCA custodian to make it 2-1.

NEROCA had a great chance towards the hour mark after Johnson’s tackle on Joachim saw the ball fall to Subash Singh who cut into his right foot before blasting the ball wide off the mark.

Bengaluru FC NEROCA FC Super Cup

Chidi then came agonizingly close to getting an equalizer with 10 minutes left to play. The Nigerian sprayed the ball to Ashok Singh on the right who delivered a cross back into the box where Chidi was waiting. Unfortunately for NEROCA, Chidi’s header went just inches wide of the target.

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At the other end, Chhetri came close to completing his hat-trick with an audacious overhead attempt. A quick breakaway saw Miku dribbling past several defenders before laying the ball for Victor Perez. The Spaniard’s shot was blocked before the loose ball fell towards Chhetri who connected well with his overhead kick but could not find the target.

There would be no denying Chhetri his hat-trick in injury-time though as he curled a low shot into the bottom corner after being released by Toni Dovale in the box.

That would be the end of NEROCA’s hopes as Bengaluru ran out comfortable 3-1 victors eventually.

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