Bengaluru FC reached the semifinal of Indian Super League after Kerala Blasters FC walked out during their knockout match at the Sree Kanteerava stadium in Bengaluru on Friday.
Sunil Chhetri’s quickly-taken free kick in the first half of extra time saw the KBFC players leave the pitch and not return as the whistle was blown eventually at 120 minutes.
Bengaluru FC advanced to the next stage of the ISL playoffs. The Blues will take on League Shield Winners Mumbai City FC next in a two-legged semi-final on March 7 and 12 which starts with an away trip.
Chhetri told the broadcasters Star Sports later on that he took the quick free kick with permission from the referee to not have the wall or for the whistle to be blown. The Indian captain added that while he felt like the players should come back and the match should have a proper finish at that moment, after the whistle he was happy that his side has won, and that he has never seen anything as strange in his career.
The Blasters dominated possession in the first half but couldn’t get past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in the Bengaluru FC goal. Relying on the quick feet of Roy Krishna and Sivasakthi Narayanan, the Blues were content to play on the counter.
The hosts had six shots in the first half, but only one on target. Three of those shots were attempted by Krishna. The Fijian registered the only shot on target of the half in the 24th minute from a tight angle. Gill almost parried it straight into the path of Hernandez, but it was cleared away for a corner from which Krishna failed to keep his header on target.
Three minutes after the half-hour-mark, Danish Farooq’s glancing header from a corner was missed by an unmarked Victor Mongil at the far post before the flag went up for offside against the defender.
The second half was much the same, as the visitors kept more of the ball and the hosts waited to launch on the counter. The Blasters had a chance to test the keeper via a free kick in the 53rd minute, but Adrian Luna skied it. Around the hour-mark, Suresh Wangjam’s effort from outside the box flew through traffic and forced a palm behind for a corner by Gill at full stretch.
In the final quarter of the match, the Blasters pressed further up the pitch, but the Bengaluru FC defence kept its shape to deflect attacks. In the 83rd minute, Dimitrios Diamantakos registered his side’s first shot on target but his header was claimed comfortably by Sandhu before the game went into extra time.
In the first minute of extra time, Rahul KP tried his luck from range as his shot picked up a flick from Luna and went inches wide at the far post. Bengaluru FC responded instantly at the other end as Bruno Ramires got his head to a corner but sent it over the bar.
In the seventh minute of extra time, a quickly taken free kick by Chhetri flew into the back of the net. The Blasters forfeited the match in disagreement with the decision and a win was awarded to Bengaluru FC. Further details are awaited on what action will be taken by the league.
In the end, Chhetri scored the only goal of the match in the seventh minute of extra time to add a ninth consecutive win for his team, which confirmed a semi-final berth for them.