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Blues bow out after losing on penalties



Bengaluru FC failed to qualify for the group stage of the AFC Cup after they lost the two-legged play-off tie to Maziya of Maldives in a penalty shoot-out at the Shree Kanteerava Stadium, here on Wednesday.

Bengaluru won the second leg 3-2 here on Wednesday but since they had lost to the Maldivian team 1-2 in their away match on February 19, the two sides were tied 4-4 on aggregate and the tie had to be decided on a penalty shoot-out.

Maziya won the shootout 4-3 to progress further in the group stage of the AFC Cup.

Only four players, Juanan, Erik Paartalu, Nili Perdomo and Ashique Kuruniyan kept their place in the Bengaluru FC starting lineup from their first leg tie against Maziya S&RC. Skipper Sunil Chhetri started on the bench.

Bengaluru FC commanded proceedings right from the beginning and created more chances in the first half than visitors. Maziya, who were carrying a 2-1 lead into the second leg, took a pragmatic approach.

Nili Perdomo and Erik Paartalu came closest to break the deadlock. While Spaniard’s shot from the edge of the box was stopped by the opposition custodian, the Australian’s pile driver from long range hit the upright and came back.

Desperate for a goal, Carles Cuadrat brought in skipper Sunil Chhetri replacing an ineffective Ashique Kuruniyan in the 53rd minute of the match.

The Blues finally broke the deadlock in the 58th minute thanks to Deshorn Brown’s strike. Suresh Wangjam made a tremendous run down the left flank before cutting in and set up the pass for the Jamaican striker who slotted the ball home.

Ibrahim Waheed Hassan scored an equaliser in the 74th minute as the Maldivian club took a lead in the aggregate but Chhetri proved to be a ‘super sub’ as he handed Bengaluru the much needed lead within six minutes of conceding. The Blues skipper scored from Nili Perdomo’s assist.

Bengaluru held on to their lead in the match until full time as the match went into extra time. But Maziya again scored in the 102nd minute of the match as Cornelius Stewart found the back of the net.

Sunil Chhetri then converted a brilliant free-kick in the dying moments of the extra time as Bengaluru equalised on aggregate and the match went into penalties. Rahul Bheke and Parag Srivas missed their penalties as the Blues went down 3-4 in penalty shootout to crash out of the competition.

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