Bengaluru humble East Bengal to become Hero Super Cup’s first champions
Bengaluru FC emerged as champions of the inaugural Hero Super Cup on Friday when they brushed aside East Bengal by a commanding 4-1 scoreline in the Final at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. After Ansumana Kromah’s opener for the Kolkata giants, the Blues came back strong through goals from Rahul Bheke, Miku and Sunil Chhetri, to deservedly pick up their first trophy of the season.
The game started with chances being created on either end. However, drama ensued within the first 10 minutes when Bengaluru’s custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu fouled Kromah just outside the box. As the Bengal players appealed for a straight red to be awarded to him, the referee settled for a yellow. With tempers flaring around, the Blues managed to create their first chance in the 16th minute, when Bheke and Udanta Singh combined well down the right flank, but the right-back failed to trouble Bengal’s custodian Ubaid CK.
Halfway through the first half, Bengal broke the deadlock through their frontman Kromah. From Katsumi Yusa’s corner, the Liberian acrobatically flicked the ball into the net after Gurpreet had failed to clear his lines and gave his team the lead. This setback seemed to spark life into Bengaluru as they surged ahead in search of the equaliser. Victor Perez almost got them level when Miku put him through on goal, but his shot narrowly missed the top corner.
Bengaluru finally equalled proceedings in the 39th minute when Bheke got on the end of a corner kick from Perez. He shrugged off his marker and thumped a powerful header home, with Ubaid rooted to his spot. However, a moment of madness from Samad Ali Mallick in injury-time earned him a straight red card. He recklessly elbowed Subhasish Bose in the face and reduced Bengal to 10-men, as the teams entered the breather tied at 1-1.
The Red and Gold brigade started the second half with intent and nearly took the lead within the first 10 minutes, but Gurpreet managed to tip Mahmoud Al Amna’s dangerous free-kick over the post. Bengaluru created chances of their own with Miku having a glorious opportunity from Udanta’s cross. The Venezuelan tried to sneak the ball into the near post but Ubaid was on hand to save it.
However, Bengaluru’s pressure led to Bengal conceding a needless penalty through Gurwinder Singh’s handball in the 68th minute. Chhetri stepped up and comfortably slotted the ball into the bottom corner to give the Blues the lead. Within two minutes, they doubled their lead with an absolute belter from Miku. After a neat build-up play, Perez played the ball into Miku’s feet, who unleashed a rasping drive from the edge of the box to find the top corner.
With the two-goal cushion, Bengaluru continued to dominate play for the last 20 minutes and the 10-men of Bengal were barely afforded a sniff back in the tie. The Blues then sealed the deal in injury-time through Chhetri again, who rose highest to head home Bheke’s cross. With that last action, Albert Roca’s men deservedly emerged as the eventual winners of the competition, ensuring they kept their record of earning a trophy in every season since their inception intact.