Bengaluru break Gokulam Kerala’s heart to enter quarter-final
An injury-time winner from Udanta Singh saw Bengaluru FC entering the quarter-final of the Hero Super Cup after handing a 2-1 defeat to an inspired Gokulam Kerala FC side at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. Henry Kisekka gave the Hero I-League club the lead in the first period before Miku and Udanta combined for the Blues in the second to see the team through and thwart another upset.
The very first action of the match saw Gokulam appealing for a penalty when Suhair V P was blocked by two Bengaluru men, which was eventually turned down. The first major chance of the game came Sunil Chhetri’s way when he found himself at the end of a perfect diagonal ball. He managed to draw out Gokulam’s custodian Nikhil Barnard off his line, but the latter still managed to parry away his curling effort.
In the very next minute, Bengaluru almost got the lead but a brilliant goal-line save from Mohammad Rashid saw the chance go begging. They had another chance from the rebound, but the Gokulam defence again managed to block Juanan’s attempt. Gokulam themselves had a chance in the 19th minute, but Kisekka failed to head in an in-swinging cross.
However, he rectified his missed chance by handing Gokulam the lead in the 33rd minute. The Ugandan latched onto a lob and while the Bengaluru players were busy appealing for an offside, he calmly slotted the ball past custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. They had a chance to double the lead in added time through Hristijan Denkovski, but Gurpreet managed to keep the danger at bay and Gokulam entered the breather enjoying the one-goal cushion.
Bengaluru entered the second period with intent writ large on their faces. Both Miku and Subhasish Bose had brilliant chances to equalise but the former failed to breach Barnard, while the latter, unfortunately, got denied by the woodwork. That didn’t deter them as they continued to attack with Gokulam trying to soak in the pressure.
Nevertheless, they were rewarded for their efforts in the 69th minute when Miku scored to bring the scoreline at par. Udanta finished off his pacy run by supplying Miku with a pass, which the Venezuelan made no mistake in slotting home from close-range. He almost gave the Blues the lead minutes later, but his chip over the keeper’s head was saved off the line by an alert Emmanuel Chigozie.
The match looked all set to roll into extra-time, but Bengaluru had other plans up their sleeves. While Gokulam was busy attacking upfront, they initiated a brilliant counter-attack. Miku perfectly set up Udanta inside the box, who only had the keeper to beat. He found the back of the net without fail to take Bengaluru to the quarter-finals in the very last action of a well-fought encounter.