BENGALURU: India captain Sunil Chhetri led Bengaluru FC to a historic AFC Cup final by scripting an inspiring 3-1 win over defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim with his stunning double strike, on Wednesday.
The two-time I-League champions won 4-2 on aggregate and now will take on Iraqi club Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya in the final on November 5 in Doha, Qatar.
Bengaluru remained indebted to skipper and mercurial forward Sunil Chhetri who scored a brace on either side of halftime with defender Juan Antonio adding gloss to the scoreline after the visitors had taken the lead through Safiq Bin Rahim early on in the game at the Kanteerava Stadium.
The match began with Bengaluru dominating the possession but it was JDT who opened the scoring through Shafiq Rahim in the 11th minute. A thunderous strike from Safiq from the right side was straight to BFC goalie Amrinder who made an error let the ball go over him and into the goal after taking his hand.
But Chhetri equalised in the 40th minute with a header. He had a couple of misses before the goal but amended them with BFC’s first goal. Both teams went into half-time tied 1-1.
The second half began with Bengaluru once again showing intent but it was Chhetri once again who scored for them and it was a stunning strike.
From the left corner of the box, Chhetri moved backwards and fired in a shot on the turn, some 30 yards from the goal. The shot went like a rocket and into the top left corner to give BFC the lead.
Joanan headed home the third goal and sealed the game which gave BFC the win and knocked out defending champions JDT.
It is a historic day for Indian football as no club from the country has ever made it to the summit clash of the prestigious second-tier continental tournament.
They will play the final of AFC Cup against Iraq’s Air Force Club on November 5. The venue of this match will be decided through a draw later.