Euro 2020 Special

Indian Super League: ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC To Clash  For The Trophy After Nail-Biting Semi-final Wins

ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC will clash in the final of the Indian Super League 2022-23 season on Sunday with both teams booking their berths in the grand finale after nerve-wracking action in the semi-finals.

The top two teams of the tournament – ISL Shield winners Mumbai City FC and defending champions Hyderabad FC – failed to advance to the final, with the third and fourth-placed teams putting up a better show in front of home fans over the weekend.

Let’s take a look at how the two semi-finals panned out over the week:


Bengaluru FC vs Mumbai City FC

Bengaluru’s journey to the semi-finals of the tournament was extraordinary – Sunil Chhetri’s team were languishing at the ninth spot in the table at the beginning of the year. Since then, Simon Grayson’s squad won nine games in a row in the league stage to finish the tournament with 34 points, earning them a shot at the ISL trophy.

The knockout fixture against Kerala Blasters was full of drama, as Ivan Vukomanovic’s men walked out of the game in extra time protesting against the referee’s decision.

Mumbai City had an extraordinary season until February, remaining undefeated 18 games into the season. But back-to-back defeats in their last two games of the season – with the first one coming against Bengaluru and a long gap between their final league stage game – destroyed the aura of invincibility they commanded this season. Add to it a long gap between the final league stage game and the semi-final, Mumbai City were not at their best in the first-leg of the fixture.

The Islanders dominated in the first half of the fixture at the Mumbai Football Arena, creating chances within minutes after kick-off. But valiant efforts from Prabir Das and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu kept the scoreline at 0-0 at half-time.

Greg Stewart created the best opportunity for Mumbai City in the first half, setting up Jorge Diaz with a brilliant pass. Bengaluru started pressing into the opposition’s half once Sunil Chhetri came onto the field near the one-hour mark, replacing Sivasakthi Narayanan.

India’s skipper once again came through for Bengaluru as he headed a corner-kick from Naorem Roshan to score the only goal of the game. With a 1-0 advantage in the first-leg and the potential of tremendous support from home fans, Bengaluru became the favourites overnight.

The Blues were more composed in the second-leg, but an early mistake by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu gave Mumbai City an opportunity to come back into the game with a penalty kick.

But Gurpreet Singh Sandhu became the hero of the night for Bengaluru as he saved the penalty by Greg Stewart. Javier Hernandez opened the scoring for the Blues in the 22nd minute, but Mumbai City came back into the game with a brilliant shot by Bipin Singh from inside the box.

The Islanders increased the pace of the game to find the equaliser, finding it in the form of Mehtab Singh’s header in the 66th minute.

The game went into extra time with the scores level at 2-2 on aggregate, and neither side could find the breakthrough for the next half an hour. Both sides were at the top of their game as the first five shots went in with ease, taking the shootout into a sudden-death format.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was once again the man of the moment as he stopped Mehtab Singh’s kick, with Sandesh Jhingan netting his penalty and giving Bengaluru the win. With incredible form on their side and a loyal fan base to back them, Bengaluru’s turnaround story this season has been extraordinary. If they manage to win the ISL trophy this year, it will truly be a memorable season for the fans who stuck with the team through its lowest points.


ATK Mohun Bagan vs Hyderabad FC

Defending champions Hyderabad failed to catch up with Mumbai City in the league stage of the tournament with the goal-scoring spree of the Islanders putting them firmly in command of the tournament. But Manolo Marquez’s men did improve their defencive record, conceding just 16 goals in 20 games.

Entering the first-leg of the semi-final, they were considered to be clear favourites over ATK Mohun Bagan.

ATK Mohun Bagan themselves managed to qualify for the knockout rounds based on the efficiency of their defencive unit. The Nizams tried to open the scoring in the first-half of the fixture at the GMC Balayogi Stadium in Hyderabad but were effectively thwarted by the visitors.

Vishal Kaith had a busy start to the night, preventing two efforts from the hosts from reaching the net in the first ten minutes of the game.

The Mariners settled into the game after the first 30 minutes with Dimitri Petratos creating the best opportunity of the night for the visitors. Pritam Kotal came flying in with the ball, but could only hit the crossbar. The tempo of the game slowed down as both sides took a risk-free approach, ending the night with a dull draw.

The second-leg at the Salt Lake Stadium was dominated by the hosts with Hyderabad barely making any attempts to attack the opponent’s goal.

Glen Martin, Dimitri Petratos, and Manvir Singh all tried to break the deadlock for the Mariners in quick succession but failed to break past the best defencive setup in the league.

Bartholomew Ogbeche made the only serious shot of the night for the Nizams, only to miss the goal by a few feet. Neither side could find a breakthrough in the extra time with fatigue and tiredness setting in among both teams.

The game went into a penalty shootout. Both sides scored the opening three penalty kicks, but Vishal Kaith managed to stop Javier Siviero’s kick. Bartholomew Ogbeche hit the goalpost, giving ATK Mohun Bagan a 4-3 victory in the penalty shootout. With their victory, ATK Mohun Bagan have now avenged their defeat at the hands of Hyderabad last year and will look to clinch their fourth ISL trophy.




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