Amrinder Singh saved a penalty in the last minute of additional time (90+7) to dump Aizawl FC out of the Federation Cup and send Bengaluru FC to the final after Cameron Watson scored from the spot in the 8th minute in a dramatic semifinal at the Barabati Stadium, in Cuttack, on Sunday.
With captain Sunil Chhetri ruled out of the tournament with a muscle injury, Roca handed CK Vineeth a start as striker ahead of Len Doungel while Eugeneson Lyngdoh returned to side after a suspension and was drafted out wide.
The Blues started on the offense with shots from Vineeth and Lyngdoh saved by Gomes before a tackle from Kingsley Eze on Alwyn George prompted referee to point to the spot in the 8th minute. Watson, stepping up in the absence of Chhetri, made no mistake as he slotted past Albino Gomes to score his first goal for the Blues and give Roca’s side an early lead.
Bengaluru pushed forward and almost found a second when Alwyn sent Vineeth through on goal but Kingsley recovered to make the tackle before the Blues’ number 31 could get a shot away.
The Blues’ best chance of the half came from Watson once again. The Australian curved a shot past the Aizawl defence only to see it cannon back into play off the post for Lyngdoh’s effort on the rebound to find its way into the hands of Gomes.
Roca brought in Cornell Glen for Vineeth a little beyond the hour mark and the No.9 was a handful for the Aizawl defence who found his strength tough to deal with. Infusing a little pace, the Blues then brought on Udanta Singh for Lyngdoh and the youngster always looked a threat on the counter.
Glen came close in the 89th minute when after being picked out by a pass from Harmanjot Khabra, he lost his man with a feint only to see his curled effort with the left roll wide.
The Blues were made to deal with drama at the end when Jhingan’s foul on Bayi Kamo prompted the referee to award Aizawl a penalty in the seventh minute of added time. Chullova stepped up to take the spot-kick but Amrinder guessed right to make the save in what was the very last action of the game.
Building on a compact showing against Bagan, the Blues’ three-man defence with the two wing-backs in support, were on top of their game. John Johnson, who wore the captain’s armband, was at his clinical best, keeping Kamo out of the game.
The Blues will face Mohun Bagan AC in the final, following the Mariners’ 2-0 semifinal win over East Bengal Club. The summit clash will be played at the Barabati Stadium, on 21 May.