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Sunil Chhetri told teammates before Bengaluru-Pune semi-final that he would chip Vishal Kaith

Chhetri's hat-trick sealed a spot in the ISL final for Bengaluru FC

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Exclusive 12 Mar 2018, 00:28 IST
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Sunil Chhetri panenka chip penalty ISL semi final Bengaluru Pune City
Sunil Chhetri chipped his penalty to give Bengaluru a 2-0 lead over Pune City [Image: ISL]

On a night where his hat-trick saw Bengaluru FC beat FC Pune City 3-1 to ensure the Blues qualified for their first ever Indian Super League final, Sunil Chhetri proudly walked away with the match ball signed by all his teammates.

It was a cagey affair with both teams creating chances to score and Pune almost gave the home side a scare when they halved the lead late in the game. But Chhetri put the game out of reach with a counter-attacking goal that sealed the ISL table-toppers' place in the final.

"Technically we could have scored more despite the hat-trick," Chhetri said after the game. "In the first half I missed two chances which I should have buried. Thank god it didn't haunt us, but we had a lot of chances.

"We should be happy after scoring three goals but you won't get such chances in every game. But when you have Miku and Udanta [Singh] in your team you get a lot of chances."

With the introduction of the away goal rule, Pune City had the advantage after the 0-0 draw in the first leg. And Chhetri admitted that their top priority was not to concede.

"Don't concede an away goal," he said when asked about what was on their mind. "That's the only reason why you probably didn't see an all out BFC match that you generally see at the Kanteerava."

Also read: 'No words to define outstanding Suni Chhetri', says Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca

"We generally don't stop, we just go out and attack teams. But then you have [Marko] Stankovic who can pick a pass. Then you have Marcelinho and [Emiliano] Alfaro who can score a goal at any time. [Jonathan] Lucca scored from the free-kick...

"Pune is a good side. With the talent that they have, you just can't give them any chances. We had to work really hard as a team to come back and defend and that's why you didn't see all-out attack from Bengaluru."

Chhetri panenka
Chhetri said he doesn't usually go for the chip [Image: ISL]

Chhetri explains the reasoning behind his Panenka penalty

With the scoreline reading 1-0, Chhetri was brought down in the box in the second half with the referee in no doubt that the Blues skipper had been hauled down despite his attempts to stay on his feet to shoot.

And when the time came for the penalty itself, Chhetri calmly chipped the ball, leaving a diving Kaith to scramble and attempt to palm the ball away, only to see his flailing arms grab nothing but air as the ball floated into the goal.

"I don't usually go for the chip - just today because it was Vishal Kaith," Chhetri explained. "I told the team that he knows me. In the Indian team, it's Vishal and I who train at the end for penalties, so he knows me.

"It plays on your mind. I'm sure he saw me score against Amrinder [Singh]. I knew he would go to one side."

One of the members of the Bengaluru FC staff also confirmed that Chhetri had told them at 4 PM that if he gets a penalty, he would chip Kaith down the centre of goal.

"I just had to keep my calm because one voice in your head says" 'Don't do it!' because if it is saved then you are a villain for life - no matter what you do next you'll be remembered as one of the guys who tried to chip and tried to be cheeky.

"But I wasn't trying to be cheeky, I wanted a goal. And I knew that with this shot my probability of getting a goal was the maximum."

After converting the penalty, Chhetri seemed to be telling Kaith something but he just said that he was going for the rebound - in case there was one.

"I went for the rebound, I wasn't trying to say anything to him, I went for the rebound because I saw him standing up. It was so slow and then it went in thankfully. Even Udanta had some choice words to say to me after but we were all happy in the end."

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