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"Made everyone laugh a bit," says Simon Grayson on Super Cup draw with Kerala Blasters

Bengaluru FC beat Mumbai City FC in the first leg of their semi-final match-up. Here's what Simon Grayson said after the win.

Made everyone laugh a bit, says Simon Grayson on Super Cup draw with Kerala Blasters

Simon Grayson (Screengrab: Disney+Hotstar)


The Bridge Desk

Published: 7 March 2023 5:20 PM GMT

Bengaluru FC defeated Mumbai City FC 1-0 in their first leg of the semi-final of the Indian Super League on Tuesday, at the Mumbai Arena. The reverse fixture will be played on Sunday the 9th of March to decide who will get the final berth.

The Blues had come into the game after what was a controversial game against Kerala Blasters in the Knockouts. Quizzed on how he prepped his players after that match, coach Simon Grayson said that he'd given his players a message.

"The first thing I told the boys is that there'll be a lot of outside noise from different people. We can't affect that, we won that game and now our focus is on Mumbai. The players have done just that," he recalled.

"It's interesting that we have drawn with Kerala in the Super Cup, made everyone laugh a little bit," Grayson joked.

It was Sunil Chhetri, once again, who came off the bench to give Bengaluru FC the winner in an important match. Left-back Naorem Roshan put in a curling ball inside the box from a corner which found the diminutive Chhetri, who headed the ball inside the net in 78th minute.

"He (Chhetri) doesn't need too many messages from me to know how to play. He's been hungry over the last few weeks. I contemplated starting him because of how he's been playing and his experience, but thought Sivasakthi would give us more pace on the counter attack. Sunil came on and did what he does," Grayson said on his captain's performance.

The first 45 minutes of the first leg was completely dominated by Mumbai City FC, but the hosts couldn't find the back of the net. This is where Bengaluru's resolute defence comes in, who were on their best tonight.

"You've gotta give Mumbai credit. We needed to defend well and keep the ball, but we didn't do that and that allowed Mumbai to come forward. That was my message at half time, to keep the ball," Simon said.

"Prabir (Das) made a block and a tackle in the first 15 minutes which sort of set the tempo of the game, and what we needed to do tonight. I'm with happy with the clean sheet, and hope we can do it again on Sunday night," the Englishman concluded.

The Islanders had a mammoth 21 attempted shots, out of which only three were on target. Mumbai City's shooting boots weren't on tonight, contrary to the most part of their season.

"I'm happy with the performance, but need to do better in the final third," confessed coach Des Buckingham after the narrow defeat.

Buckingham's men were in action after a break of more than two weeks, whereas Bengaluru came into the match after playing another just a few days back. Asked on whether the lack of game time affected the players' performance, Des couldn't help but disagree.

"I don't think so. We've worked hard in those 15 days and played matches amongst ourselves. We took total control in the first 45 minutes but we need to make sure that turns into goals," he said.

In the league stage, the shield winners did trail in some games, but the team did well to equalise or even dig out a win from those circumstances. Mumbai's coach thinks that this talent of theirs can very well come into play on Sunday.

"We know we can. We have been behind and come back to win games. We know we have goals in us. We measure our performance across a number of things. Tonight, you could check off most of those but conversion wasn't there. We'll work hard and try to get the result we want and we need from the away game," he concluded.

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