After having lost the final in the previous year’s campaign, Sunil Chhetri and his Bengaluru side scripted history as they won their maiden Indian Super League (ISL) title after defeating FC Goa by a goal at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday. Defender Rahul Beke scored a picturesque header at the 117th minute — dying minutes in the second half of extra time — for the winner from a set-piece.
The match was evenly contested for the majority of the game but a red card to Goa’s Ahmed Jahouh at the 106th minute gave Bengaluru an advantage, on which they capitalised successfully.
After the first 90 minutes, both the teams were tied at a goalless deadlock Several chances were created at both ends but the keepers at each end — Bengaluru’s Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and FC Goa’s Navneet — stood tall successfully, keeping the strikers at bay.
With this victory, Bengaluru will take their trophy count to an impressive sixth in just as many seasons since the club’s inception. The club’s growth was fostered by a fan-base with a footballing culture and the presence of some of the big stars of Indian football like Sunil Chhetri, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Udanta among others.
“We feel on top of the world,” a jubilant Sunil Chhetri said after the match.
“We topped the league table like last year. We lost the final that time, but this year’s story is different. We knew our power was in attack. Had to work hard in defence as they attacked very well,” said BFC’s Spanish striker Miku.
“We pushed so much in extra time, got a red card and that changed the game. We did really well throughout the season. We deserved to win but it was our bad luck,” said FC Goa skipper Mandar Rao Desai, who was stretchered off in the first half of the match with a hamstring injury.
Over the years Bengaluru FC — a team with a real sense of footballing philosophy –has been an exemplary football club in India and an ISL title was nothing short of what they desereved. Their opponents FC Goa have now been defeated in two finals but after putting in a good show and with the talented resources in their asset, they will not be dettered to aim for the title again next campaign.