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Life comes a full circle for Bengaluru FC hero Rahul Bheke

05:42 SAST 2019/03/18
Bengaluru FC vs FC Goa
At fault to an extent for Bengaluru FC's loss in the ISL final last year, the Mumbai-born defender achieved redemption on Sunday...

When FC Goa were reduced to 10-men midway through the extra-time period on Sunday in the Indian Super League (ISL) final against Bengaluru FC, the Blues were handed control of the game.

They had 15 minutes to force the issue before the match went to the lottery of the penalty shootouts. The game was crying out for a hero and materialise he did.

Rahul Bheke carried out the act for the Blues and handed them their first-ever ISL title. It was perhaps poetic justice for the defender who had been at fault for the poor marking that led to Mailson Alves scoring two headers from corners in last year's final which Chennaiyin FC won 3-2.

A year later, Bheke redeemed himself with a cleverly directed header from a corner that could only be parried on to the post and in by FC Goa goalkeeper Naveen Kumar whose positioning could have been a bit better.

But that does not matter. Rahul Bheke's growth as a player was very much evident in the way he played the entire match, not just during the set-piece that produced the goal.

He has come a long way from his Kerala Blasters and FC Pune City spells. Especially in the last one year, Bheke has been a consistent and versatile performer for Bengaluru FC. He has played all across the backline this season and was solid throughout the final.

But his most important contribution came at the other end and that was no surprise too. He has been contributing crucial goals this season. In fact, he has three goals and an assist - a terrific contribution considering the fact that he also leads the team stats for interceptions and lags behind only to influential midfielder Erik Paartalu when it comes to tackles.

Speaking to Star Sports after the match, goal scorer Bheke said, “It is a great feeling for me as I scored in the final minute of the final. I am really happy and it will be a memorable moment for me.

“Yes, we were confident ahead of the final as we had defeated NorthEast United before this. We had to win this time as we had lost last year in the final.”

The 28-year-old has been deservedly rewarded for the hardwork he has put in to his game. And his match-winning act in the final is a feather in his cap. What a turnaround after the depths of last year. Well done, Bheke!