Bengaluru FC 2-1 Pune FC: A Chhetri double seals a semi-final spot for the Blues

A clinical Bengaluru FC rode a Sunil Chhetri double to guarantee their semi-final berth as Haokip's late goal failed to spark a Pune FC comeback...
Bengaluru FC defeated Pune FC 2-1 at the Tilak Maidan in Goa in their final Group B encounter of the Federation Cup. Sunil Chhetri scored a brace in the 43rd and 45+3' minute in the first half to seal the deal for the Blues while Thongkhosiem Haokip scored a late consolation goal for Pune FC in the 85th minute. 

Ashley Westwood rewarded Robin Singh for his imperious performance in the last two matches by picking him in his starting lineup alongside Sunil Chhetri and Sean Rooney.

Karim Bencherifa meanwhile gave Thongkhosiem Haokip a start alongside Eric Brown while Luciano Sobrosa and Matthew Gonsalves helmed the defense. 

The first thirty minutes of the half was a dull affair as neither team managed to create a clear cut chance with both Robin Singh and Eric Brown drawing regulation saves from both the goalkeepers. 

In fact it was Pune FC who were the ones in ascendancy as both Eric and Haokip tested Lalthuammawia Ralte in the Bengaluru FC goal from shots outside the box.

However, it was the Blues who had the last laugh in the half as Sunil Chhetri popped out of nowhere to give his team the lead in the 43rd minute. It all came off a Eugeneson Lyngdoh corner which Amrinder Singh failed to deal with against a burly John Johnson who challenged the keeper in the air. The ball fell to Chhetri who showed great presence of mind and skill to pull off a scissor kick into the empty net. 

It got worse for Karim's boys about five minutes later when a Joshua Walker long ball had put Sean Rooney clean through only to be brought down by Amrinder in the box. The referee had no hesitation to point to the spot and Chhetri made no mistake and converted the penalty calmly, finding the bottom left corner. 

Karim's words at half-time worked as the Red Lizards started the better of the two sides in the second half. About five minutes after the hour mark, Haokip had done well to find space on the left but his shot straight to Ralte was somehow parried it out for a corner.

Haokip followed this up with some neat footwork outside the box before a fantastic turn allowed him to beat two defenders. Once his again his final shot let him down badly which allowed Ralte to collect it calmly.

On the opposite side, Beikhokhei Beingaichcho put in a great ball towards Sean Rooney from the left but the Australian's header was straight to Amrinder.

In the 85th minute, Johnson put in a great last ditch tackle as Haokip was getting ready to pull the trigger in the box. A minute later however, he made no mistake as he took advantage of Ralte fumbling a regulation cross from Nikhil Kadam on the left and headed it into goal.

The Blues somehow survived five minutes of added time against a rampaging Red Lizards who failed to put their possession advantage to good use and the game ended with Bengaluru FC winning 2-1.

The win guarantees Bengaluru FC's place in the Federation Cup semi-finals while Pune FC have a must win encounter against Salgaocar FC to sneak into the next stages after tonight's loss.

Pune FC: Amrinder, Luciano, Mathew, Raju, Arata, Ryuji, Ralte, Ganesh, Lal Ramluaha, Eric, Haokip.

Bengaluru FC: Ralte, Curtis, Johnson, Rino, Keegan, Walker, Thoi, Eugenson, Sunil, Robin, Rooney.