Chennaiyin FC beat Bengaluru FC to claim second ISL title
Chennaiyin FC claimed their second Indian Super League title with a convincing 3-2 win over hot favourites Bengaluru FC in the final here on Saturday.
Published: 17th March 2018 10:18 PM | Last Updated: 18th March 2018 07:20 AM | A+A A-
BENGALURU: It’s not without reason that Bengaluru FC fans call Sree Kanteerava Stadium ‘The Fortress’. It was here that they scripted history by entering the AFC Cup final. It was here that most of their dreams came true. It was their theatre of dreams.
On Saturday, Bengaluru FC had another chance to write history. It was a chance to win India’s most talked about football league in their debut season. The runaway leaders of the group stage looked on course when Sunil Chhetri gave them an early lead. That’s when it all fell apart for them. Chennaiyin responded with three goals the home favourites had no answer to and won 3-2 to clinch the title for a second time.
Chennaiyin beat the hosts in their own game — set-pieces. Two corners and two headers by Brazilian Mailson Alves turned the game on its head. Chhetri had scored with a diving header following an Udanta Singh cross, which was set up by the third maestro in BFC’s attac — Miku (Nicolas Fedor). The seventh-minute goal suggested the Blues were going to have their way. But a corner dashed it. Mailson climbed high to head in Gregory Nelson’s beautifully curled delivery in the 17th minute.
The game was still in the balance as both sides were locked in a midfield battle. However, Chennaiyin once again hit BFC from a corner when they were down to 10 men, with Dimas Delgado receiving treatment on the sidelines. The Mailson-Nelson duo repeated the routine to put Chennaiyin in the lead.
In between the two headers, BFC had their chance to take the lead. Rahul Bheke, who was playing as a right-wing-back, found an unmarked Delgado inside the box. The Spaniard took a shot only to see Calderon clear with a header.
Their hopes of lifting the title went up in smoke when Chennayin struck the third. Nelson was the architect again.
He played Jeje Lalpekhlua through and the striker somehow found Rafael Augusto at the edge of the box. This Brazilian’s clever placement gave Gurpreet no chance. BFC got a goal back in the 90th minute when Miku’s header found the target, but it was too little too late.
“We were playing a good game, but conceded twice from set-pieces. The second goal, when we were preparing to substitute an injured Dimas, was difficult to digest. We also failed to come back. It’s just a bad day. I’m sad for the players and the fans. It’s disappointing,” BFC coach Albert Roca said.
For Chennaiyin coach John Gregory, it was a day to remember. When he started in October, he faced the big task of replicating Marco Materazzi’s success. The Englishman knew set-pieces could prove decisive.
ISL roll of honour:
2014: ATK (champ), Kerala Blasters (runners)
2015: Chennaiyin FC (champ), FC Goa (runners)
2016: ATK (champ), Kerala Blasters (runners)
2017-18: Chennaiyin FC (champ), Bengaluru FC (runners)
18: Goals by ISL 4 top scorer Ferran Corominas (FC Goa)