Bengaluru storm into final

Bengaluru storm into final

DEFT: Bengaluru FC's Miku (left) scores his team's first goal against NorthEast United FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Monday. DH PHOTO/BH SHIVAKUMAR

Bengaluru FC reached the final of the Indian Super League for the second straight season on Monday.

At the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here, BFC produced a dominant performance to beat NorthEast United FC 3-0 in the second leg of the semifinal to progress with an aggregate 4-2 victory.

The hosts entered the night down 1-2 from the first leg defeat at Guwahati but goals from forward Miku (72nd minute), midfielder Dimas Delgado (88th) and skipper Sunil Chhetri (90th) in the second half, overturned the deficit and kept their unbeaten record at home intact.

"We did the job from the first minute. Their plan was to defend and go on the counter. Happy to see a crowd of joy at the Kanteerava stadium. There is a nice feeling in the locker room right now," said BFC coach Carles Cuadrat. 

In front of the cheering home fans, BFC made their intentions clear from the very first minute. They attacked with purpose and remained in control of the game throughout the 90 minutes.

The result could have been more damaging for NorthEast had Miku converted all his chances. The striker missed three golden chances to put BFC ahead in the first half.

The first arrived in the 22nd minute. Delgado found wingback Nishu Kumar, whose enticing cross from the left found Miku. The Venezuelan forward, attempting to guide in the bottom right corner, headed it horribly wide.

Three minutes later, Miku missed a sitter from six yards out, blasting it over the bar, after collecting a cutback from winger Udanta Singh on the right.

The BFC star forward had only himself to blame for his third miss. He danced past a slew of NorthEast defenders to enter the box before hitting a weak shot straight at goalkeeper Pawan Kumar.

NorthEast forward Federico Gallego then tested BFC custodian Gurpreet Singh from distance. The Uruguyan strike had power but Gurpreet was equal to the task as he dived to his right to parry it away. The hosts pressed for a breakthrough but NorthEast were able to thwart their attack.

Nothing changed after the break as BFC kept questioning the NorthEast defence.

The visitors suffered a huge setback in the 54th minute when Gallego was rushed off the field in an ambulance after he injured his leg. The Uruguayan was hurt while sliding in with a challenge just as Miku was taking the shot inside the NorthEast box. 

BFC got the elusive goal in the 72nd minute. Harmonjot Khabra started the move. The midfielder sent a long ball to Xisco Hernandez in the right wing. The Spaniard then gave the ball to Udanta Singh, whose cross was tucked in by Miku.

That goal broke NorthEast’s resilience and the lead was doubled in the 87th minute. NorthEast, looking for answers, threw everyone forward. Udanta Singh capitalized, as he pounced on a loose ball that came off a corner. The winger drove forward before chipping it towards the far post. The ball ricocheted off the bar and landed in the path of the onrushing Delgado, who made no mistake.

Chhetri put the contest beyond doubt in the 90th minute as he rounded off the NorthEast keeper before tapping it in.   

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