A stunning second-half comeback sealed a 4-2 win for Bengaluru FC over Mohun Bagan in the semi-final of the 2018 Super Cup at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.
Aser Dipanda (42', 90+2') opened the scoring for Bagan in the first-half but despite Nishu Kumar's red card in the second-half, Miku's (62', 65', 89' ) hat trick and a fantastic goal from Sunil Chhetri (90') sealed the win for the Blues. Dipanda netted a consolation goal to complete his brace right at the end.
Mohun Bagan coach Sankarlal Chakraborty fielded an unchanged starting lineup. Boithang Haokip and Nishu Kumar came into the Bengaluru FC first team in place of Lenny Rodrigues and Rahul Bheke. Just minutes before kick-off, Juanan fell ill due to the extreme heat and had to be replaced by Harmanjyot Khabra.
Albert Roca tweaked his formation against Mohun Bagan. Instead of their regular 4-3-3, the Spaniard opted for a 4-4-2 formation with Sunil Chhetri and Miku up top and Udanta and Haokip on the flanks.
The Kolkata giants had the first major chance to score in the seventh minute of the match. SK. Faiaz ran down the right flank after Khabra fumbled. Faiaz entered the box and squared the ball for Kadam who had just Gurpreet Sandhu to beat. But the Bagan winger blasted the ball over the crossbar.
Within two minutes, Bengaluru got their maiden chance of the match when Miku and Sunil Chhetri exchanged a one-two at the edge of the box before Miku squared the ball for Haokip on the left. The winger entered the box and hit the side-netting.
Udanta missed Bengaluru’s second chance of the day in the 18th minute. He followed a through ball from Chhetri into the box and shot at the far post only to see the ball go just wide.
The Green and Maroons broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute. Akram Moghrabi received a pass from SK. Faiaz from the left flank and entered the box. He squared the ball towards the middle eyeing Aser Dipanda’s run and the striker slotted the ball home. Subhashish Bose was at fault for not marking Dipanda on that occasion.
Mohun Bagan were clearly the better side after the first 45 minutes of the match but they were in for a shocking second-half.
Albert Roca made a change at the beginning of second half. He replaced Khabra with Toni Dovale and changed the formation from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2. Erik Paartalu moved back to play the third central defender’s role alongside John Johnson and Subhashish Bose. Nishu Kumar and Udanta Singh operated as the full-backs.
Bengaluru FC suffered a major setback in the 51st minute when Nishu Kumar was shown a direct red card and was sent off. Nikhil Kadam ran down the middle from his own half from a counter-attack and outpaced Nishu who helplessly tackled Kadam from behind. The referee did not hesitate to show red to the defender reducing Bengaluru down to 10 men.
Much to Bengaluru FC’s relief, Miku scored the equaliser in the 63rd minute from Udanta Singh’s pass. Victor Perez started the move with a through ball for Udanta who entered the box from the right side and squared the ball for Miku. The Venezuelan striker's composed finish kick-started the Blues' comeback.
Three minutes later, Bengaluru did the unthinkable when they took the lead. Kingsley brought Miku down near the box and Toni Dovale's quick free-kick into Miku's feet ended up in the net as the side with 10 men outwitted their opponents to take the lead.
The Mariners paid the price for being overconfident after Nishu's red card. Sankarlal’s men should have taken the advantage and piled the pressure on a shaky Bengaluru defence.
Sankarlal Chakraborty made a shocking substitution in the 82nd minute replacing striker Akram Moghrabi with defender Rana Gharami. He pushed Kingsley upfront to partner Dipanda. The substitution proved to be a blunder as Gharami brought down Udanta inside the box, giving away a penalty. Miku completed his hattick by scoring from the spot.
Sunil Chhetri scored the fourth goal for Bengaluru with a world class strike in the 90th minute. The skipper cut in from the left flank and curled the ball into the top right corner of the net.
Aser Dipanda completed his brace by scoring a consolation goal for Bagan in injury time but it was just not enough. Bengaluru FC marched into the final of Super Cup where they will meet another Kolkata giant East Bengal on April 20.