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ISL 2022-23: Sunil Chhetri guides Bengaluru FC to away leg win against Mumbai City

Skipper Sunil Chhetri guided Bengaluru FC to an away leg win against Mumbai City FC in the semi-finals of ISL 2022-23.

ISL 2022-23: Sunil Chhetri guides Bengaluru FC to away leg win against Mumbai City
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Sunil Chhetri (Source: Bengaluru FC/Twitter)

By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 7 March 2023 6:19 PM GMT

It was the experienced man Sunil Chhetri in the thick of things as his header guided Bengaluru FC to win in the away leg of the Indian Super League semi-finals against Mumbai City FC, at the Mumbai Football Arena, on Tuesday.

Sunil Chhetri came off the substitute bench to snick into the box, unmarked, and headed home from point-blank range following a corner from Roshan in the 79th minute.

Earlier, The Blues started with an unchanged squad from the last game with Sandesh Jhingan, Aleksandar Jovanovic, and Bruno Ramires playing in a back three and the familiar duo of Roy Krishna and Sivasakthi leading the line.

The home side started strongly and came close within the first minute when Rahul Bheke sent a low cross in from the right, but Prabir Das was alert to the danger and put the ball out for a corner.

It was Vignesh who turned provider in the 12th minute when he bent a cross into the box, which was met by Greg Stewart who steered it goalward, but Blues goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was sharp to dive to his left and deny the Scotsman’s header to squeeze past his near post.

Roshan fashioned the first chance for Simon Grayson’s side when he looked to find Roy Krishna in the box, but his attempted cross, albeit not finding its intended target, flew just over Phurba Lachenpa’s goal, leaving the Mumbai ’keeper in a spot of bother.

Des Buckingham’s men pushed for the opener and they came to scoring in the 39th minute. Stewart found himself in space and set Jorge Pereyra Diaz behind the Blues’ backline, but Gurpreet was quick to get off his spot and deny the Argentine a shot on goal.

Both teams created plenty of chances to get the opening goal, but neither was able to convert them as the first half came to a close with the score 0-0.

Into the second period, both teams started in the same way as the first with Mumbai looking to dominate possession, while Bengaluru looked to beat the Islanders for pace and get in behind.

The Blues were the first to go to their bench, with Grayson bringing on skipper Sunil Chhetri for Sivasakthi in the 57th minute, to inject some energy and pace into the attack.

The substitution almost paid dividends just past the hour mark, as Chhetri set Javi up for a shot. But, the Spaniard’s headed first touch took him wide of goal and his eventual shot was saved by Lachenpa.

With the Blues getting more and more into the game and posing a genuine threat. Buckingham, to refresh his side’s approach, brought on midfielder Alberto Noguera to replace Jahouh in the 68th minute and Vikram Pratap Singh for Bipin Singh in the 75th minute.

The changes and the sustained phase of possession paid dividends for Grayson’s men, as the Blues took the lead through Chhetri in the 79th minute.

Having gone behind, the home side found numerous opportunities to get an equalizer. It was Stewart who once again came the closest of all Mumbai players when his free kick flew agonizingly over the crossbar.

The missed chances for Mumbai City mean that the Blues register a crucial win in the first against the shield winners and they will return to their to face Mumbai City FC in the second leg on Sunday.

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