BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
The loss of striker Siva Narayanan when the game was hardly two minutes left Bengaluru FC on a wobble and enabled ATK Mohun Bagan bag their first ISL competition title at the Nehru stadium in Fatorda on Saturday.
In a game that was played on a pause–penetrate mode, winners ATK Mohun Bagan enjoyed the upper hand during the ninety minutes; extra time and penalty shoot-out justifying coach Juan Ferrando’s tactical moves.
Ten penalties in all – three during the normal period of play – one good save and a miss directed the path of the finals which was devoid of thrills with both teams preferring to wait instead of being wasteful.
ATK Mohun Bagan was the first to get a feel of the nylons when referee Harish Kundu awarded them a penalty that looked soft. The victim being Roy Krishna of Bengaluru who had the mortification of seeing the ball graze his hand. Dimitri Petratos made no mistake with the kick.
Mohun Bagan played more incisive after the goal and enjoyed possession in the next twenty minutes with keeper Gurpreet Sandhu called to his best on two occasions and succeeding.
Bengaluru FC brought in Sunil Chhetri in place of injured Siva but the tally of age over youth and of the dexterity demonstrated by Shiva was evident with the Bangalorites getting the first smell of the Mohun Bagan goal when the game was around twenty-five minutes old.
Their first try was a corner and it was followed soon after with a free kick which Francisco Gonzalez made a ripple of. On both occasions, Mohun Bagan’s Vishal Kaith was the hero.
When the first session appeared set to be ending in favour of Mohun Bagan, referee Kundu pointed to the dreaded spot for a foul on Bengaluru’s Krishna and Chhetri stepped up to equalize to send players of both teams on split emotions for the break.
Mohun Bagan started the second half without Glan Martins, who played aggressively but without grit and brought in Liston Colaco ten minutes later but the substitutions lacked fluoresce.
Liston who started cautiously made his first impression at the hour mark when he took a rasping shot which was punched away by Gurpreet. Petratos who got the rebound could not control to convert.
With both teams playing cautious, Bengaluru FC took the lead against the run of play through a corner earned by them in the 77th minute when Krishna headed in from a corner.
The goal saw Ferrando throw in striker Kiyan Giri who was fouled in his first touch and the referee did not hesitate to award the third penalty of the match and Petratos once again stepped up to convert.
With both teams sharing four goals, extra time was played through a defensive prism and Mohun Bagan came closest to scoring during both sessions with Manvir Singh missing the first and Petratos the second.
Manvir headed out when he could have controlled and done better and Petratos could have looked and shot instead of shooting out.
The penalty saw Ferrando leave the onus on youngsters with Liston and Kiyam converting successfully and ultimately Kaith making the save and Bengaluru FC player shooting over for Mohun Bagan to commence their party.