CUTTACK: Bengaluru FC play out a 1-1 draw with Mohun Bagan to book the second semi-final slot remaining from Group-B, joining Aizawl FC, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan to complete the quartet for the Federation Cup semi-finals.
Alwyn George’s 11th-minute strike was cancelled by a 50th minute Sony Norde goal for Mohun Bagan as both teams shared the points at the end of the match.
Per the result, Mohun Bagan topped Group B with seven points, Bengaluru on six points with Shillong Lajong and DSK Shivajians on three points each.
Starting the game with intent given what was at stake, Bengaluru shot into the lead in the 11th minute when Alwyn, picked ahead of Udanta on the right, scored with a clinical left-foot finish, leaving Debjit Majumder no chance whatsoever. The Blues could have doubled their lead only minutes later but skipper Sunil Chhetri saw his attempt bounce off the crossbar from a corner.
Bagan got on level terms soon after the restart when Norde, picked out Kean Lewis, bet one man and fired low past Amrinder’s left to make it 1-1 in the 50th minute. Bengaluru soon suffered a minor blip when Chhetri, visibly struggling with a limp, made way for Malsawmzuala.
Norde’s moment of individual brilliance apart, Bengaluru played like a team with a plan that wouldn’t give an inch. Doungel’s impressive work rate as striker allowed the wings more freedom. In defence, John Johnson and Juanan Gonzalez were winning every aerial duel while Jhingan, Ranjan and Harmanjot Khabra were winning tackles and helping the midfield to build up play.
The Blues had a half chance in the 87th minute when Lenny’s ambitious punt ahead bounced over a Bagan head and fell in the path of Doungel’s run. But in looking to control the ball and set himself up for the finish, the Bengaluru striker was robbed in time by Eduardo.
In the last few minutes, Mohun Bagan beefed up bodies in the midfield to counter the free-flowing attacks of Bengaluru FC. With a draw enough to get both Teams into the knock-out stage, both teams played the match cautiously, not over committing to attacks was a common sight. The full-time scoreline read 1-1 as both Teams progressed to the semi-final stage.