Bengaluru FC suffer 3-2 loss to FC Istiklol of Tajikistan in AFC Cup semi final

Bengaluru FC suffer 3-2 loss to FC Istiklol of Tajikistan in AFC Cup semi final

Bengaluru FC’s dream of making it a second successive AFC Cup final came to a sorry end after bowing out to FC Istiklol of Tajikistan at the Sree Kanteerava stadium on Wednesday.

Down to 10-men for the most part of the game, though they did manage to hold the Tajik champions to a 2-2 draw at their home turf, it was not enough as the visitors nicked the tie 3-2 on aggregate. Istiklol had registered a narrow 1-0 win over Bengaluru in the first leg a few weeks ago. The 2015 edition finalists, Istiklol, will take on reigning champions Air Force Club of Iraq in the final on November 4.

Bengaluru went behind in the fourth minute to a dubious penalty decision, replays showing no contact between ’keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Fathuloev Fathullo, scored by Davronov Nuriddin. But that didn't deter Bengaluru spirits and the hosts pulled one back when Rahul Bheke headed home his first goal for the club in the 24th minute. In what was a massive blow to the comeback effort, defender Harmanjot Khabra picked up a second booking just before half-time, reducing Bengaluru to ten-men.

Later, though Istiklol netted a second through Dmitrii Barkov in the 56th minute, Bengaluru once again came back from a penalty, their skipper Sunil Chhetri converting from the spot in the 65th minute. But it wasn’t to be a magical night that the Fortress hoped it would be as Istiklol weathered a brave Bengaluru charge.

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