10-men Bengaluru sink Bagan’s boat to enter Final
Bengaluru FC pulled off a stunning second-half comeback to trump Mohun Bagan 4-2 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday and set up a Hero Super Cup title clash with East Bengal. After Nishu Kumar’s red card reduced the Blues to 10-men, Miku led their fightback with a stunning hat-trick which when coupled with Sunil Chhetri’s wonder strike, blew away Dipanda Dicka’s brace for the Mariners.
The game started on a cagey note with the majority of the action panning out in midfield. The first real chance fell to Bagan in the 7th minute, when SK Faiaz found Nikhil Kadam free in space down the right, but the latter failed to keep his shot on target. Bengaluru replied in the very next minute when Miku released Boithang Haokip down the left wing, but the youngster missed a golden chance as his shot grazed the side-netting.
Again in the 18th minute, Udanta Singh had a go at goal from the edge of the box. He collected Chhetri’s pass and swivelled before firing a shot on the turn, which missed the far post by mere inches. Chances were few and far between for the rest of the half, but Dicka had other plans. In the 42nd minute, the Cameroonian put Bagan in the lead with a simple tap-in off Akram Moghrabi’s cross, to ensure they entered the breather with the one-goal advantage.
As expected, Bengaluru raced out of the blocks at the re-start and almost equalised within the first minute, but Kumar's curled effort from the left was well saved by Bagan custodian Shilton Paul. However, within minutes Bengaluru were struck a heavy blow when Kumar was shown a straight red for a last-ditch challenge on Kadam, who was racing through on goal from a swift counter-attack.
That, though, failed to pour water on Bengaluru’s intent as they deservedly equalised in the 62nd minute. Udanta squared the ball from the right to Miku, who took one touch before firing a thunderous shot which lodged itself into the far corner. Just three minutes later, the Blues struck again through Miku to take the lead. The Venezuelan latched onto a quick free-kick to take the Bagan defence by surprise and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner, leaving Paul with no chance.
In the 87th minute, Bengaluru won themselves a penalty when substitute Rana Gharami brought Udanta down in the box, which Miku comfortably converted to complete his hat-trick in style. But the Blues were not yet done. With the match nearing its end, Chhetri showed his masterclass. He picked up the ball at the edge of the box and brilliantly curled it past the keeper into the top corner to seal the deal. Dicka did pull a goal back for Bagan in injury-time, but it only proved to be a late consolation as Bengaluru deservedly advanced to the Final.