Bengaluru FC 1-2 Mumbai City FC (2-2 on aggregate; BFC win 9-8 on penalties): Blues reach ISL 2022-23 final after nerve-wracking victory

Bengaluru FC lost on the night, but won on penalties to qualify for the ISL 2022-23 final. [Credits: ISL Media]
Bengaluru lost on the nigh but won on penalties to qualify for the ISL 2022-23 final. (Credits: ISL Media)

Bengaluru FC clinched a heart-stopping 9-8 win on penalties over Mumbai City FC to secure their place in the ISL 2022-23 final. The game ended 2-1 in the Islanders' favour after extra time, leaving the tie level at 2-2 on aggregate.

Bengaluru began the game on the front foot in front of their home crowd as Naorem Roshan Singh went on an exciting run forward in the first minute. Mumbai City did well to clear the effort before enjoying some possession themselves.

The game's first shot on target came in the fifth minute as the Islanders cleared out a free-kick all the way to Das close to the halfway line. The wing-back fired an effort from that position and did admirably well to get it on target, but Phurba Lachenpa collected it with ease.

Simon Grayson's men continued to apply pressure on the visitors but were almost punished following an error. A neatly constructed Mumbai City move saw the ball played towards Pereyra Diaz, who won the ball before being clattered by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in the box.

Stewart stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick but was denied by Sandhu, who dived full stretch to his left and made amends for his mistake. The hosts then overcame a period of sustained pressure from the Islanders, all in the game's opening 15 minutes.

Having done so, the only thing left for Bengaluru to do was take the lead, and they did so in the 22nd minute.

Sivasakthi Narayanan expertly controlled a lofted ball forward before creating some space by moving away from his defender. The forward then whipped a superb cross into the box for Hernandez, who got in between both Mumbai City centre-backs to head home.

Des Buckingham's side responded to the goal by ramping up the pressure once again. They almost camped in the hosts' half and won the ball back repeatedly. Bengaluru, meanwhile, worked hard off the ball and didn't give their opponents a moment's peace, constantly pressing the player with the ball.

The combination meant clear-cut chances were far and few on both ends. However, Mumbai City came up with a good passage of play to get themselves back into the tie right on the half-hour mark.

The Islanders worked the ball out to the right from where Lallianzuala Chhangte whipped a cross into the box. It reached Pereyra Diaz, whose first touch was heavy but fell perfectly to Rowlin Borges. Borges' shot was well saved by Sandhu, but Bipin Singh volleyed home the rebound to make it 1-1 on the night.

The goal gave Buckingham's men the impetus they needed as spaces began opening up for them to exploit. Stewart even went close to scoring in the 36th minute but saw his left-footed effort fly inches wide of Sandhu's post.

They also hit the woodwork less than 70 seconds later when the Scot found Vignesh Dakshinamurthy down the left. The left-back sent a speculative effort into the box that looped over everyone before coming back off the crossbar, much to the well-beaten Sandhu's relief.

Bengaluru then went close in the 41st minute as Bruno Ramires' pass bypassed the entire Mumbai City midfield to find Sivasakthi. He, in turn, slipped in an onrushing Hernandez on the left, but his effort was repelled by Lachenpa, who was quick to come off his line.

The resulting corner was half-cleared before Bipin handled the ball just a few yards outside his own area. Hernandez curled the free-kick towards goal but could only find the roof of the net.

At the other end, the Islanders almost instantly found Pereyra Diaz in space outside the area. The Argentine unleashed a powerful effort, but it sailed over the crossbar.

Mumbai City dominated the ball towards the end of the half. However, Bengaluru held their shape well to ensure the game stayed level at half-time, with the hosts holding a slender lead on aggregate.

Mehtab Singh's header brings Mumbai City level; Bengaluru hold on to force extra time

Mumbai City FC were positive to begin the second half and got a shot on target inside 60 seconds. Greg Stewart turned past a couple of defenders before slipping in Jorge Pereyra Diaz, whose shot was easily saved by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

Bengaluru FC's first attack of the half came in the 49th minute as Lallianzuala Chhangte's misplaced pass was picked up by Javi Hernandez. The Spaniard tried to slip in Sivasakthi Narayanan, but Phurba Lachenpa sprinted off his line and cleared the ball.

Their next big chance saw Sivasakthi return the favor as he skipped past Ahmed Jahouh in midfield to slip Hernandez in on the counter. However, the Blues attacker's shot was stopped by Lachenpa, who gathered on the second attempt.

In the 65th minute, it was Mumbai City's turn to go close again as a superbly constructed move down the right saw Stewart in space. He whipped a ball in for Bipin Singh, who headed it down towards the bottom corner, but Sandhu came up big and palmed it out.

The Islanders weren't to be denied, though, and got their second goal of the game from the resulting corner. Stewart once again sent in a tantalizing delivery, and this time, Mehtab Singh's bullet header at the far post made it 2-2 on aggregate.

Bengaluru's response was excellent as Roshan Singh whipped in a brilliant cross from the right for Hernandez. He controlled it brilliantly and got his shot away, but Lachenpa made a fabulous save down to his left. The move, though, was eventually called back for offside.

It took till the 86th minute for either team to get another clear-cut chance. After repeatedly going long and failing to find their targets, the Blues came up with some composed play courtesy of Rohit Kumar and Suresh Wangjam. Substitute Sunil Chhetri then slipped in Roy Krishna, who fired over from the right side of the box.

The final chance of regulation fell to Mumbai City as substitute Vikram Pratap Singh's teasing cross into the box was flicked just wide by Rahul Bheke. Pereyra Diaz attacked it at the far post but couldn't get a touch.

With nothing to separate the two teams after 180 minutes, the contest moved into extra time.

Sandesh Jhingan's ice-cold penalty sends Bengaluru to final after Mehtab Singh's miss from the spot

Mumbai City began extra time on the front foot, with Stewart forcing a save from Sandhu just four minutes into the 15-minute period. The Islanders once again pegged Bengaluru back, constantly pressing high and pushing forward, while staying patient when in possession.

The Blues did create a chance of their own shortly after as a clearance came out to Hernandez. However, his shot, like Stewart's, was well-hit but straight at the goalkeeper.

Mumbai City then created the best chance of the first half of extra time as Stewart found a racing Vikram Pratap down the right. The forward sent a dangerous cross into the box, but Pereyra Diaz's near-post attempt went wide of the goal.

It was then the Blues' turn to enjoy a spell of possession that eventually ended in an incredible opportunity. Substitute Pablo Perez sent in an inviting cross from the left that was attacked brilliantly by Krishna at the far-post, but Lachenpa pulled off an incredible save.

Mumbai City's poor attempted clearance then cannoned back off the post before coming out to Rohit Kumar. The midfielder's shot, though, was cleared off the line. A thrilling final 15 minutes awaited as the first half of extra time came to an end.

The tempo of the second half at the start indicated that neither team wanted penalties. This time, it was Bengaluru who began on the front foot, with a superb bit of play finding Sunil Chhetri in the box. The veteran's shot was fumbled by Lachenpa, but the goalkeeper reacted well to keep it away from the waiting Perez.

Mumbai City responded with a golden opportunity of their own after Vikram Pratap won a corner. The set-piece was played short before a cross went in from Stewart. Bheke escaped his marker to get a free header in front of Sandhu, but it ballooned over the crossbar.

A few more tense moments passed before Bengaluru came up with one of the best passages of the game. Chhetri and Perez combined to get into the box before the former laid off a superb pass for the latter. Perez met the pass on the volley but could only hit it straight at Lachenpa.

The Blues went close again in the final minute of extra time as Hernandez sent in a brilliant cross from the right. However, Alan Costa's header was deflected wide. Hernandez took the resulting corner, but Pereyra Diaz jumped high to clear the ball.

The score remained intact at full time; penalties would decide who would become the first finalist of ISL 2022-23. Both teams converted their first five penalties as the game entered the sudden death. Vikram Pratap Singh, Mourtada Fall and Vinit Rai all scored for Mumbai City, while Prabir Das, Rohit Kumar and Suresh Wangjam responded for Bengaluru.

What followed was heart-breaking for the Islanders as Mehtab Singh, so dominant for much of the game and the season, saw his spot-kick saved. His counterpart, Sandesh Jhingan, stepped up to finish the job for Bengaluru and did just that to send them into the final.

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Edited by Anantaajith Raghuraman
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