Delhi FC secure maiden I-League berth

The capital side had previously made it to the I-League Qualifiers Final Round in 2021 but finished third and missed out on the promotion.

Published - May 27, 2023 03:56 am IST - Chandigarh

Delhi FC defeated Ambernath United Atlanta FC 3-1 to emerge second division champions and gain a promotion to I-League for the first time here on Friday.

Playing in their debut second division season, the Mumbai-based Atlanta FC needed a point at the Minerva Academy Ground in Chandigarh to win the title.

But a brace from Bali Gagandeep and an audacious strike from Vanlalhriatzuala scripted a memorable afternoon for the hosts Delhi FC.

The capital side had previously made it to the I-League Qualifiers Final Round in 2021 but finished third and missed out on the promotion.

However, there was redemption and scenes of pure joy when Delhi FC finally got the job done and booked their berth in the I-League for the first time ever.

After an opening half-an-hour of sustained pressure, Delhi opened the scoring in the 34th minute with a fine team goal.

Skipper Balwant Singh released Fahad Temuri in acres of space down the left wing, and the youngster charged forward before squaring the ball into the box for Bali Gagandeep to side-foot it home at full stretch.

However, Atlanta FC, who barely threatened in the first half, came out strong after the break and equalised in the 48th minute with a move similar to the Delhi goal.

But it wasn't to be the Mumbai side's day, as parity only lasted eight minutes. Gagandeep struck again for Delhi, rising highest in the six-yard box to head in Bhupinder Singh's brilliant delivery from the corner.

Although Steven Dias' Ambernath United Atlanta only needed a goal to take pole position again and spoil the hosts' party, they just couldn't find any inspiration in the final third.

Eventually, two minutes from time, Vanlalhriatzuala sealed the deal for Delhi FC with a sensational 35-yard strike, which curled right into the top corner.

The 22-year-old had attempted a similar shot in the first half which came off the crossbar, but there was no denying him this time.

A top-notch goal to secure the top spot in the table for Delhi FC.

The other 2nd Division match between hosts FC Bengaluru United and United SC was a dead rubber, the former ran out 1-0 winners.

Irfan Yadwad scored the only goal, thus taking his season's tally to 13 goals to finish as the league's top scorer.

Atlanta FC and FC Bengaluru United finished third and fourth respectively with six points each.

United SC were bottom of the table with three points.

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