Bengaluru FC triumph over ATK Mohun Bagan to reach National Championship final
Mumbai, Maharashtra: Bengaluru FC defeated ATK Mohun Bagan in a thrilling penalty shootout at the Reliance Corporate Park (RCP) on Thursday to cruise to the finals of the Reliance Foundation Developmental League (RFDL) after the game was stuck at 1-1 in regulation time.
Thumsol Tongsin missed the decisive seventh spot-kick in the shootout to hand the Blues this emphatic victory. Huidrom Thoi Singh from Bengaluru FC scored a wonder strike in the 61st minute to help the Blues get ahead in the contest and break the deadlock after an hour of some gruelling end-to-end football.
Thoi came into this tournament on the back of a stunning first-half hat trick that he scored against FC Goa in their National Group Stage faceoff in Bangalore. He demonstrated some incredible footwork after collecting the ball near the halfway mark and getting past a couple of ATKMB players before unleashing a venomous strike that found the back of the net from outside the box to help Bangalore get a crucial lead in the encounter.
However, ATKMB managed to gather themselves in the final 10 minutes and started building up some pressure with some impressive passing moves. They earned a free-kick near the touchline with minutes to go before the halftime whistle and forward Ningombam Engson Singh pounced upon the deflected free-kick to hit a powerful strike and find the equaliser to push the game into penalties.
Both the teams held strong for a significant period in the shootouts but ATKMB finally perished courtesy of a great save by Bengaluru goalkeeper and skipper Sharon.
"Football always brings us new training sessions, new experiences and new games. In two days, we have the third-place playoff, which we want to win. Then there is the Next Gen Cup. So, there is always a next opportunity, a next exam," said ATKMB coach Josep Maria Roma Gibert as he reflected on his team's loss after a highly competitive clash.
"There is no time to regret. There is no time to cry. We will cry a little bit now in the changing. Tomorrow there is a training session and then we keep moving to the third-place game. This is football. This is life," he added.
On the other hand, Bengaluru FC coach Kaizad Ambapardiwalla heaped praise on Thoi Singh, who walked away with the Player of the Match award from this game.
"Thoi has developed really well because he has been starting and playing games continuously. His style of play has also improved at the same. If you observe tonight's goal as well, technique-wise, his entire performance levels have gone up very high," Ambapardiwalla touched upon the impressive form demonstrated by his star player.
Bengaluru FC 1 (7) (Huidrom Thoi Singh 61') - 1 (6) (Ningombam Engson Singh 87') ATK Mohun Bagan.