Cuttack, May 14 (IANS) Bengaluru FC (BFC) here on Sunday defeated Aizawl FC 1-0 in a hard-fought encounter to enter the final of the 2017 Federation Cup football tournament.
Cameron Watson converted a penalty to score the only goal of the semi-final in the eighth minute.
BFC held on to the slender lead despite numerous chances at either end.
Aizawl were awarded a penalty in the final seconds but BFC goalkeeper Amrinder Singh parried away a poor effort from Lalram Chullova to knockout the recently crowned I-League champions out of the tournament.
This is the second time that BFC have entered the final of the Federation Cup.
They had last qualified for the summit clash during the 2014-15 season when they defeated Goan outfit Dempo SC 2-1 to clinch the title.
BFC took the upper hand early on when Alwyn George was brought down inside the Aizawl FC penalty box by a clumsy challenge and the referee pointed straight to the spot.
Watson stepped up and slotted the ball into the bottom left corner to hand BFC the lead.
At the back, BFC’s defensive pair of John Johnson and Sandesh Jhingan gave the Aizawl forwards a torrid time.
In the 12th minute, Aizawl striker Kamo Bayi found himself in possession inside the BFC box, but a sweetly timed tackle by John Johnson robbed him of the ball before he could take a shot.
Four minutes later, Lalram Chullova cut into the BFC box from the left flank before unleashing a shot, which was intercepted by the tall figure of Sandesh Jhingan and went out for a throw-in.
Playing on the counter, BFC came close to doubling their lead in the 21st minute after Eugeneson Lyngdoh released C.K. Vineeth onto goal with a well-weighted through ball.
Vineeth’s shot, however, was met with Aizawl defender Kingsley Eze’s hurling body. Vineeth passed the rebound for an onrushing Alwyn George to capitalise. But George shot the ball over the bar.
At the other end, Aizawl FC were handed a golden opportunity to score the equaliser after Kamo was found on the far post by a delicious Lalram Chullova cross.
The Ivorian, however, could not make clean contact with the ball and headed it wide of the goal.
Watson hit the post in the 39th minute when the BFC midfielder curled in a shot from outside the Aizawl penalty box.
The rebound fell for Lyndoh who was unmarked just outside the six-yard box but his close range attempt was saved by Aizawl goalkeeper Albino Gomes.
Aizawl coach Khalid Jamil revamped his side’s tactics in the second half and Syrian import Mahmoud Al-Amna who was sitting deep in the first half was given more freedom around the BFC box.
The Syrian, however, was booked for simulation after he beat two defenders to get into the BFC box but fell, in hopes of a penalty, with minimal contact.
Aizawl played with a high line and an offside trap that outfoxed the BFC forwards more than twice. Every time Al-Amna got the ball, the Syrian ran into the BFC box in hope of fostering a goal scoring chance.
That chance remained elusive for Aizawl FC as BFC’s compact defence kept them at bay.
Lalram Chullova missed from the penalty spot right in the final seconds as a diving Amrinder blocked the ball. The rebound fell to an onrushing Lalram Chullova but Amrinder cleared the danger as the referee blew the final whistle.
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