Bengaluru edges out Odisha by 2-1 in the second Durand Cup quarter-final

The last laugh went in the favour of Bengaluru

Bengaluru has stormed into the semi-final stages of the 2022 Durand Cup competition after handing a 2-1 defeat to Odisha in a nail-biting encounter. 

It was a neck-to-neck battle between the two Indian Super League outfits as the play went to extra time to bring out the result. The screaming last-moment strike by Roy Krishna gave a befitting climax to this thrilling contest at Kishore Bharati Krirangan of Kolkata. 

Bengaluru rested many of their starters in the last group stage game against Goa hence they returned to their full-strength lineup for this key quarter-final fixture. Hence we saw the likes of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Bruno Ramires, Parag Shrivas, and Naorem Roshan lining up for the Blues at the kick-off. 

However, Josep Gombau only made two changes as the skipper Carlos Delgado returned to lead the Juggernauts while the winning goal-scorer of the previous game, Pedro once again failed to make it to the Starting XI. 

The encounter got kick-started at a speedy pace and the star Odisha forward Diego Mauricio went on to miss the chance to open the scoreline and earn the early lead in the 8th minute. Bengaluru full-backs took their time to get a grip on the battlefield as it looked quite easy for their counterparts to enter in the final third through the wings in the early minutes. The BFC attackers were also not in a mood to go easy and kept the Kalinga goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte busy throughout the first half. 

As the play proceeded further, players from both sides got indulged in heated moments and especially Bruno Ramires, Rohit Kumar and Shubham Sarangi who were warned by the referee multiple times. 

The Bengaluru No. 10 Javi Hernandez was the first player from this game to get booked yellow after his diving attempt in the opposition box to attract a penalty got penalised. It was followed by the yellow card of Odisha central defender Narender Gahlot for his dangerous challenge on Roy Krishna.

A hard-fought defeat for the Juggernauts

A hard-fought defeat for the Juggernauts 

The Juggernauts’ best attempt to get a breakthrough came in the final minutes of the first half when Jerry darted a fine cross from the right flank but Mauricio and Nanda Kumar failed to tap it inside the net. The Kalinga Warriors had a psychological edge when they went on a half-time break having 57% of ball possession while the only Shot on Target was also attempted by them. Meanwhile, the West Block Blues released the most number of shots (4) although none of them was kept on target. 

Both managers turned up for the second-half action avoiding any changes in the lineup to continue forward with the same momentum. A technical error in the 60th minute caused huge chaos as two balls were present on the pitch at the same time and Bengaluru was given the throw-in despite the ball still not going out of the play. The decision of the referee infuriated the Odisha head coach who barged onto the field and instructed his players to leave the pitch and even received a yellow card for his actions.  

The way for the substitute benches of both teams finally got opened in the 66th minute of the play when both coaches wanted to speed up the play. Gombau pulled on his trump card Pedro Martin on the field while Thoiba Singh replaced the exhausted Jerry Mawihmingthanga on the pitch. On the other hand, Leon Augustine in place of Naorem Roshan was the only change from the Blues. 

The action was once again stopped in the 71st minute when the players from both sides were involved in a physical and verbal spat and it resulted in Raynier getting booked for fouling the spirit of the game. The Juggernauts were down to 10 men on the pitch in the culminating minutes when the right-back Shubham Sarangi received his second yellow card of the game inside the span of 10 minutes. The scoreline remained neutral on 0-0 when the first 90 minutes were consummated and the game proceeded to the 30 minutes of added extra time. 

The young BFC forward Sivasakthi Narayanan replaced the skipper Sunil Chhetri in the 105th minute and that tactical move from Simon Grayson turned the game in their favour. The 21-year-old struck the opening goal of the match from a rebound ball from the goalie to bring up his fourth goal of the tournament. It was also marked as the first goal conceded by the Odisha defense in this edition of the Durand Cup. 

The man with nerves of steel

The man with nerves of steel 

Diego Mauricio’s diligent efforts finally paid off as his headed goal in the second half of extra time brought his side back in the game. At this point, the Bhubaneswar-based club slowed down the flow to aim for the penalty shootout due to the drained energy levels of their players. However, the climax of the encounter washed out their plans as a stunning strike from the 35-year-old Fijian striker knocked them out of the tournament single-handedly. 

The battle reached the heights of physical domination as a whopping total of nine yellow cards were shown by the referee throughout the 120 minutes of the play. Krishna showed a glimpse of his form right before the commencement of the upcoming ISL season and even the opposition coach couldn’t stop himself from admiring the class of the veteran. The Kalinga Warriors played their hearts out in the debut Durand Cup campaign and fought for the prestige until the last breath. 

Odisha was considered title favourites after having such a great journey in group stages but couldn’t sustain further the momentum in the knockout round. The Karnataka-based outfit has now qualified for the penultimate round of the Durand Cup in three out of their four appearances. The semi-finalists of the previous edition will now be facing the winner of the fourth quarter-final tie between Hyderabad and Rajasthan United in their semi-final fixture.