Bengaluru FC survived a tense finish to the game to defeat Army Green 3-2 in the Durand Cup 2021 quarterfinals on Saturday. After conceding an early goal, the Blues fought back at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata to enter the semifinals.
Army Green went ahead through a penalty kick before Bengaluru FC equalized through a stunning direct free-kick from defender Wungngayam Muirang. Leon Augustine scored within 38 seconds of the second half restart and Namgyal Bhutia gave the Blues some breathing room with a third goal.
Bengaluru FC conceded a second penalty late into the match, which Army Green converted to set up a nail-biting finish. But the ISL side held on and will now face FC Goa in the last four.
The first chance of the game fell to Bengaluru FC forward Siva Sakthi, who found himself one-on-one with Army Green goalkeeper Sarath Narayanan. But he dragged the ball wide and narrowed the angle, making it easier for Sarath to save.
The next minute, a neat one-two between Shubham Rana and Sochin Chhetri resulted in the former being fouled in the box. The resulting penalty was dispatched into the top corner by Army Green forward Lallawmkima in the ninth minute.
Bengaluru FC replied with an emphatic goal in the 20th minute through a very unlikely source. Leon was fouled outside the box and stepped past centre-back Muirang to curl in from 25 yards out with his left foot.
Wasteful Bengaluru FC survive late Army Green onslaught
The Blues gained momentum after that goal and their next chance came through Damait Lyngdoh. The attacker cut in from the left and curled one in but the goalkeeper pushed it out for a corner.
Harmanpreet Singh had a clear shot at goal in the 35th minute after receiving a layoff from Siva. But a superb sliding block by Army Green defender Chanambam Singh foiled him.
Bengaluru FC wasted another chance to take the lead five minutes later from a counter-attack. Leon ran down the right and found Biswa Darjee with just the keeper to beat but the midfielder’s touch let him down.
The second half began with a bang as Leon was sent through and made no mistake in giving Bengaluru FC the lead. He almost got his second two minutes later but missed from a similar position.
Army Green, in their quest for an equalizer, were leaving too many gaps in defense for Bengaluru FC to exploit. Harmanpreet and Siva broke through one such gap but the former overhit his pass.
Slowly, the regimental side grew into the second and had their first chance of the second half through Deepak Singh. He received a pass from Chhetri and went for a goal from a tight angle but put it wide.
In the 69th minute, two Army Green substitutes, Dip Majumdar and Laishram Singh, combined with Lallawmkima. Dip took a shot on the turn and goalkeeper Lara Sharma got down well to save it.
Five minutes later, Bengaluru FC substitute Bhutia scored his side’s third goal with a well-taken finish into the bottom corner.
Fellow substitute Akashdeep Singh had a couple of chances to increase their lead but he was thwarted by Sarath and the post.
Army Green were then awarded their second penalty of the game in the 88th minute as Lallawmkima was fouled. Left-back Vibin TV sent Lara the wrong way to reduce the arrears.
Bengaluru FC held on to their lead despite some nervy moments and will go lock horns with FC Goa in the semifinals.