ISL final: ATK Mohun Bagan beat Bengaluru FC on penalties to lift title
Bagan fight back after trailing 1-2 before winning the shootout in the final played at Margao.
It was a night when Kiyan Nassiri came of age and Liston Colaco almost erased an indifferent season with one shot in the shootout after a tackle of monumental significance to deny Udanta Singh. A night where Vishal Kaith showed that Bengaluru FC weren’t the only one with momentum and one where ATK Mohun Bagan won their first trophy after coming within seven minutes of losing a second final. Which also meant that it was a night when a circle was completed for Juan Ferrando.
Ferrando had started with FC Goa before being weaned away by ATK Mohun Bagan. They let go off Roy Krishna, who nearly won it for Bengaluru FC with a 78th minute goal, because Ferrando felt no need for a focal point. ATK Mohun Bagan struggled for goals and with injuries but in winning successive games on penalties, after coming back to erase a 1-2 deficit on Saturday, showed the character that defines champions.
That Bengaluru FC took them to penalties in the final of the ninth Indian Super League (ISL) before losing 6-5 showed how close they were to winning another ISL trophy. They had taken in their stride Sivasakthi Narayanan’s third minute substitution and Krishna conceding an early penalty and it needed a save from Kaith off Bruno Ramirez in the shootout and Pablo Perez blasting his attempt into the night for a winner to be decided. This was after Dimitri Petratos had scored twice and Sunil Chhetri and Krishna had netted for Bengaluru FC to end regulation time at 2-2.
Regulation time ended with Sunil Chhetri attempting a scissors-kick and Petratos’s drive being pulled back by Prabir Das after Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was beaten. The final ebbed and flowed from the start, the first half ended 1-1 with teams sharing goals from penalties. When Krishna rose and Lalrinliana Hnamte didn’t, it seemed the night was over for ATK Mohun Bagan. And then Pablo Perez bundled Kiyan Nassiri for another penalty.
Extra-time had Manvir Singh having too much time to put away a header, Krishna flinging himself between defensive sandwich to try and score and ended with Sandhu making a hash of a Petratos drive, the ball bouncing off his chest. Bengaluru FC fans who were most of 11,879 that had fetched up at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Saturday night and had drummed up enthusiasm when they sensed their team needed it, could breathe again.
And so it was on to penalties. On to Kaith and Sandhu, the first an admirer of the second. Petratos, Colaco, Nassiri and Manvir scored for the winners. Krishna and Chhetri converted penalties for Bengaluru FC.
Krishna thought he had gone from disaster to triumph when he scored. Head bowed, a namaste followed. You couldn’t blame Krishna for thinking he had done enough. Bengaluru FC may not have been used to chasing games during their 10-game winning run but they sure knew how to close out games.
But Perez gave ATK Mohun Bagan a lifeline. Petratos took another penalty so clean and sweet that Sandhu, all of six foot six, had no chance. He didn’t with the Australian’s first of the night either after Krishna’s hand had flicked the ball before Ashqiue Kuruniyan could head it. Petratos struck and in the 14th minute ATK Mohun Bagan were ahead. What followed was a lesson in game management from the maroon and greens. From tactical fouls to stop counter-attacks they stopped Bengaluru FC till Subhasish Bose fouled Krishna and Chhetri scored off the penalty, which was also the last kick of the first half. Little separated the teams till the shootout when Kaith turned savior. Again.