AUGUSTO RODRIGUES | NT Sports Editor
ANDHERI: The red card proved to be the link for Bengaluru FC to clinch their first Indian Super League (ISL) title when they defeated ten-man FC Goa by a goal in the finals of ISL 5 at the Mumbai Football Arena in Andheri on Sunday.
Bengaluru FC started as favourites and played like that through the evening but scoring seemed difficult with FC Goa goalkeeper Naveen Kumar rising to occasions and the side bar coming to FC Goa’s rescue, a couple of times.
However, the colour of the game changed after Ahmed Jahouh was ejected after receiving his second yellow card and the winners capitalised on the open space created after his sending off.
Bengaluru FC looked more threatening for a major part of the game. Nicolas Fedor alias Miku was the player who drew the Bengaluru FC superiority line over FC Goa and his five attempts at the FC Goa goal explained why they were deserving winners.
Miku created his first opportunity in the sixth minute by cutting through the FC Goa, only unable to beat Naveen Kumar. In the 24th minute, his header was not convincing after Sunil Chhetri lobbed in a nice cross.
Bengaluru FC played in numbers during the first session – moving up and down in numbers and again worked in numbers when trying to retrieve the lost ball. Their movements up and down kept the FC Goa at bay for a good part of the first session with the outfit from Goa unable to create any dangerous move in the first
The first session was unproductive for FC Goa because Ahmed was kept on a leash for a major part by Xisco of Bengaluru who tailed the Goan playmaker, thus leaving FC Goa to rely on counter forays which were unproductive as Bengaluru used the offside trap effectively through this time.
FC Goa started with better spirits in the second. Jahou played a bit lower and Edu Bedia took control of the pace upfront and it was during this time that FC Goa got their first chance around the 55th minute when Ferran Corominas (Coro) swung the ball to Jackichand Singh. The last named, however, could not hoodwink Gurpreet who made his attempt at the goal look normal. Ten minutes later, Brandon Fernandes sliced a nice lob to Edu Bedia whose header, once again, was neatly collected by Gurpreet. These were the closest threatening shouts FC Goa had at Bengaluru FC. Jahou had another attempt that was made to look easy by Gurpreet who excelled in his positioning below the horizontal.
The thirty minutes of extra time saw both teams start cautiously and in a moment when Jahouh threw caution to the wind; he was shown his second yellow and there began Bengaluru FC’s tryst with the red card.
FC Goa beat Bengaluru FC 4-2 when the latter were down to ten men last season and Bengaluru walloped FC Goa 3-0 when they had a one man initiative. The story was repeated once again at the Mumbai Football Arena as Jahou had to walk off the field when the game was 106 minutes old.
From then on, it was: when are Bengaluru going to score because FC Goa had started playing for the tie breaker.
The turnaround came for the winners in the 116th minute when they were awarded a corner. Dimas – the other player who impressed — took a neat corner towards Rahul Bheke who, with no one around him, nodded into the corner for the Bengaluru FC fans to burst into riots of emotions.
Bengaluru FC won the ISL crown in their second final while it is not yet redemption time for FC Goa.