Bengaluru FC suffered a heartbreaking semifinal exit from the Durand Cup after going down 4-5 to Salgaocar FC on penalties when regulation and extra time had the teams locked at 0-0 at the Raia Sports Complex, in Goa, on Thursday.
Skipper Sunil Chhetri, who kept his nerves to score a penalty in added time against SESA FA on Monday to send the Blues to the semifinals, had his shot stopped by Karanjit Singh before Darryl Duffy scored Salgaocar’s fifth and decisive penalty to give the hosts the win.
Westwood rung in a few changes to the team that drew 2-2 with SESA FA, opting to start with Beikhokhei Beingaichho in place of Udanta Singh. John Johnson, Keegan Pereira and NS Manju joined Rino Anto in the defence and it didn’t take long before Bengaluru began making all the right noises. Westwood also handed summer signing and goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte his club debut.
Looking to add impetus to the pace Bengaluru were building up, Westwood threw in Udanta for Beingaichho. Only minutes later, Robin Singh swung in a shot from the outside of his boot that crashed against the post.
In the second half, Bengaluru took off from where they left, gaining more than just a foothold in the exchanges. Robin’s header flashed across the goal after the striker was picked out by Joshua Walker who was pulling all the strings in the midfield.
Salgaocar had their own woes with the post when it came to Ralte’s aid after Bikash Jairu struck from the right. With the game set to head into extra time, Derrick Pereira threw in striker Darryl Duffy for Douhou Pierre but the Bengaluru defence didn’t let him have much of a say.
Refusing to let a shootout decide what had been a dominant display by Bengaluru, Westwood introduced CK Vineeth for Robin. Bengaluru looked all set to give the gaffer what he wanted but a brilliant save from Augustin Fernandes off the line from a Udanta shot in the 114th minute meant it would go the shootout way.
Walker made sure Bengaluru got the shootout off to a perfect start, slotting home calmly. Oliveira made it 1-1 before Chhetri’s take hit Karanjit on the body. Salgaocar made sure they capitalized on the blip by scoring the next four takes and give them a shot at their third Durand trophy.