Bengaluru FC fell back on defensive discipline to beat back a spirited challenge from 10-man Dempo SC 2-1 in the Hero Federation Cup final and confirmed its status as India’s champion club following the I-League triumph. BFC will now represent India in the next AFC Cup.
Sunil Chhetri got his name on the score sheet with a first-half penalty conversion, then, watched teammates at the back soak up waves of attacks from the blue shirts from the 70th minute.
Rowlinson Rodrigues got the red card at that point. The home team picked themselves up after the incident, as if jolted awake by shock treatment and pressed hard for the second goal which did not materialise.
Tolgay Ozbey cancelled out Chhetri’s goal with a calm placement from the spot. Substitute Robin Singh nodded home five minutes before Rowlinson lashed out.
Two penalty awards highlighted a tense first-half at the Nehru stadium. BFC pressurised Dempo with individual efforts and Amiri fell for the bait by tripping Eugenson. Chhetri, subdued till then, stepped up and side-footed the ball into the net. He finished joint top-scorer (six goals), along with Tolgay.Repaying coach’s faith
Dempo pulled back into the match almost into first-half injury time. BFC goalkeeper Ralte leapt to pouch the ball floated in off a corner kick. Amiri’s jersey was pulled by Johnson by then, resulting in a penalty award. Tolgay tapped home the equaliser, repaying the coach’s faith in him.
Tolgay shook up BFC with a courageous run through the middle. Picking up a ball beyond the centreline in the rival half, the Australian rode his way past a maze of legs, found space and twisted his body to hit a placement. The visitors’ defence was beaten, but the ball rolled wide.
The match took a twist after Rowlinson invited punishment with a frontal challenge on Thoi Singh. Dempo trailed by a goal at that point, the tie 70-minutes old and Allwyn George was introduced to shore up the defence.
Robin had cashed in on a defensive lapse to head home BFC into the lead. Beikhokhei floated the ball from the right into the goalmouth, more in hope than with purpose. The Dempo defence blinked while Robin reacted swifly and headed down. Goalkeeper Kattimani stretched out but could not prevent the ball bouncing in off his palms.
The scores: Bengaluru FC 2 (Sunil Chhetri 9, Robin Singh 66) bt Dempo SC 1 (Tolgay Ozbey 45).
Player-of-the-Tournament: Romeo Fernandes (Dempo SC).