Bangalore: Bengaluru FC (BFC) entered the final of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) for the second successive year with a 3-0 win against NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) in the second leg of the play-off here Monday night.
The Blues, who were dominant throughout the game at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here, were made to work hard by a resilient NEUFC who were finally outdone by a 72nd-minute goal from Miku.
Late strikes from Dimas Delgado (87th) and Sunil Chhetri (90+2′) followed as BFC overturned the 1-2 defeat in the first leg to emerge 4-2 aggregate winners.
After a dominant first few minutes by BFC, it were NEUFC who threatened first against the run of play. Federico Gallego nicked the ball off Dimas’s feet and charged at the BFC defence. The Uruguayan fed Juan Mascia into the box who, with just Gurpreet Singh to beat, shot straight at the goalkeeper from a narrow angle.
On the other hand, Miku missed two glorious chances to score in the space of two minutes. In the 23rd minute, Nishu Kumar delivered a delightful cross into the centre of the box from the left flank but Miku headed it over the bar. Two minutes later, Udanta Singh was released down the right flank and the winger’s cut-back from the byline was sent wide from close-range by the Venezuelan striker.
The visitors rang the alarm bell again before the break as Mascia’s thunderous strike from outside the box swerved towards goal but Gurpreet kept his eyes on the ball to make a good save.
BFC got off the blocks quickly after the restart and put pressure on NEUFC defence but brilliant saves from Pawan Kumar kept the visitors in the game.
BFC finally broke the deadlock when Harmanjot Khabra found Xisco on the right flank. The Spaniard passed to Udanta who whipped a brilliant cross into the box for Miku who guided the ball into the net with a faint left-footed finish and broke NEUFC hearts.
Looking desperately for an equalizer NEUFC were caught on the break by Udanta in the 87th minute. He charged into space from his own half and attempted a chip that ricocheted off the post into the path of an onrushing Dimas who slotted home.
A desperate NEUFC were punished again in added time. Chhetri played a one-two with Udanta and dribbled into the box. With just Pawan Kumar to beat, the Indian international skipped past the goalkeeper and caressed the ball into the net to spark jubilant scenes.