A goal with the last touch of the game by Roy Krishna and a strike from N. Siva Sakthi helped Bengaluru FC (BFC) reach the semifinals of the Durand Cup 2022 with a 2-1 victory over a 10-man Odisha FC (OFC) in the second quarterfinal at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan (KBK), here on Saturday.
Diego Mauricio got the equalizing goal for the Juggernauts. The Blues thus become the second team after local giants Mohammedan Sporting to make it to the semifinals and have now made it to the last-four stage in all their four appearances in Asia's oldest football tournament.
What transpired during the 30-minutes of extra time could not be predicted during what turned out to be a scrappy and ill-tempered 90-minutes of regulation time, which ended goalless.
As many as eight yellow cards were shown in that time and Shubham Sarangi of OFC got the marching orders in the 85th minute for a second bookable offence. Credit must be given to Odisha in the way they fought for close to 40 minutes after that incident.
There were about two chances of note in the first half and both fell to Odisha. Diego Mauricio broke free in the eighth minute, but his shot from close to the keeper went well wide off the target.
Three minutes later, Nandhakumar in the second attempt, hit straight at Blues keeper Gurpreet Sandhu, who had no problems in stopping that one. It turned all untidy after that leading to about four yellow cards being shown in the first 45 minutes itself.
The second half was as uninspiring as the first. Blues sentre-back Sandesh Jhingan got the first proper scoring chance in the 64th minute, when he rose highest off a Javi free-kick from the left, but missed a proper connection with his head.
The best chance for the Blues however came in the 76th from a second Javi free-kick from round about the same spot and this time won by substitute Leon Augustine. Jovanovic, their second centre-back, had come up from defence for this one and found himself with a free header. He did connect too but it lacked direction, unfortunately.
Meanwhile, the young and fresh legs brought on by BFC coach Simon Grayson like Leon, Faisal, Udanta and Siva Sakthi were sure to provide dividends in extra time and they did.
In the very first minute, Roy Krishna sneaked in behind a Parag cross from the left, but could not trap cleanly to take advantage of it. The Blues finally broke through in the 98th minute. Faisal got hold of the ball on the left flank, dodged one defender and played an intelligent grounded cross to Leon, who was in space inside the box on the near post. He took a touch forward and shot a powerful left-footer towards goal.
Keeper L Ralte did save it but the rebound fell towards a lurking Siva Sakthi who struck a first-time volley home before OFC defender Osama Malik could challenge him. It was a fantastic opportunistic strike by the young striker.
The goal brought the game to life suddenly and to their credit Odisha really stepped it up and began to look like the better team with 10 men. Aussie Osama himself in the 103rd minute got a free-header but his flick went straight to Gurpreet. Then Pedro Martin just before the end of the first half of extra-time got behind the BFC defence wonderfully off a Raynier free-kick, but with only Gurpreet to beat, botched his connection.
The Juggernauts got a deserving equalizer when off a Sahil Panwar free-kick from the left flank, Mauricio rose above his marker Jovanovic to beat Gurpreet with a strong well-placed header.
Just as it looked like the game was headed towards penalties, Ralte made the blunder of putting the ball out of touch with seconds to go for the final whistle. The quickly taken throw-in reached an unmarked Krishna about 25-yards out and the Fijian unleashed a powerful right-footed curler to beat Ralte all ends up.