Ten-man Bengaluru FC gained an upper hand over ATK in the second Indian Super League semi-final after the defending champions won the first leg 1-0 at the Sree Kanteerava stadium in Bengaluru.

Deshorn Brown’s 31st-minute goal was the difference as Bengaluru FC brought their defensive solidity on display to deny ATK the away goal despite playing with ten men for the last six minutes of the match after Nishu Kumar was sent off for a last-man foul on Roy Krishna in the 83rd minute.

Bengaluru FC started the brighter of the two sides and had a great chance to open scoring in the seventh minute of the match when Rahul Bheke got on the end of Dimas Delgado’s corner but couldn’t keep his header on target.

After the early scare, the visitors slowly settled into the game and began moving the ball with their trademark zip. They were denied the opening goal in the 16th minute when David Williams’ brilliant finish was ruled out for handball.

In the 27th minute, ATK came close through Edu Garcia who got in between Bengaluru’s defence and midfield lines and fired inches wide of Gurpreet’s goal.

Four minutes later and slightly against the run of play Bengaluru FC opened the scoring through the direct route. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s goal-kick was cushioned into Juanan’s path by Chhetri. The centre-back’s tame shot on the ATK goal was spilled by goalkeeper Arindam Bhtacharja to allow Brown to pounce and tap it in from close range.

The hosts grew stronger as the half drew to a close and Brown once again displayed great strength to create space for a shot and shoot just over the ATK goal in the 42nd minute.

Three minutes later, ATK almost opened up the Bengaluru defence as Garcia’s clever diagonal run through the Bengaluru defence was found with an equally precise through ball. However, the former Bengaluru man had the angle against him and ended up firing in the side-netting.

Bengaluru went into the break with their goal intact but were forced into a change as Albert Serran had to be replaced.

Calres Cuadrat made an offensive change as Kevaughn Frater came on in his place, pushing Bheke to centre-back and Harmanjot Khabra to right-back.

The substitute almost made an instant impact as he set-up Chhetri for a header that was tipped over the bar by Arindam just three minutes after the restart.

ATK stepped up the intensity and began dominating the ball, but Bengaluru defended in numbers with discipline. It was to be the pattern of the second half.

Bengaluru came close to doubling their lead in the 76th minute when Frater unleashed a fierce shot on the ATK goal that needed saving. Four minutes later, Chhetri missed a golden opportunity to give Bengaluru a bigger lead in the tie as he failed to keep his shot from just outside the six-yard area on target.

Bengaluru were also made to pay for the miss as Nishu Kumar saw red for a last-man foul on Roy Krishna in the 83th minute. ATK failed to make the resultant free-kick on the edge of the box count despite a re-take as Bengaluru FC managed the remainder of the time to win 1-0.

The return leg will be held at the Salt Lake stadium next Sunday and Bengaluru FC will be hoping to defend their lead and reach their third straight ISL final.