In a dramatic turn of events, Bengaluru FC secured their spot in the semi-final of the Indian Super League with a controversial Sunil Chhetri freekick that resulted in the Kerala Blasters walking off the field. The match took place at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Friday, with Chhetri’s curling freekick finding the back of the net in the seventh minute of extra time, while the Kerala keeper was out of position.
The Blasters players were clearly unhappy with the decision and walked off the field. However, after around 20 minutes without their return, the match was declared as a win for Bengaluru. The team will now face off against League Shield winners Mumbai City FC in a two-legged semi-final on March 7 and 12, starting with an away trip.
Bengaluru coach Simon Grayson addressed the controversy after the match, revealing that he had tried to convince his Blasters counterpart not to let his team walk off the pitch.
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“If that had happened to my team, I wouldn’t have walked off the pitch. I would have asked my players to try and score an equaliser,” he stated.
Grayson also clarified what had happened during the freekick, saying that Sunil had asked the referee if he could take it quickly, and the referee had given him the go-ahead.
Before the walk-off, the Blasters had dominated possession in the first half but couldn’t seem to get past Bengaluru FC’s goalkeeper, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Meanwhile, the Blues relied on the quick feet of Roy Krishna and Sivasakthi Narayanan to play on the counter. The hosts had six shots in the first half, but only managed to get one on target. Three of those shots were attempted by Krishna, who 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.
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Ivanisome😏🤌🏻#KeralaBlasters #KBFC #isl #Manjappada #ivan #IvanVukomanovich pic.twitter.com/V9TDXXrpiD
— Shan (@Shaan968) March 4, 2023
How Kerala FC Reacted on it
Still trying to figure out 𝗪𝗛𝗘𝗡 the referee whistled or marked the distance of the wall. #BFCKBFC #ഒന്നായിപോരാടാം #KBFC #KeralaBlasters
— Kerala Blasters FC (@KeralaBlasters) March 3, 2023
Sunil Chetri’s Reply
"I got the free-kick and I saw the opening"@bengalurufc's match-winner @chetrisunil11 on his side's victory in #Bengaluru#BFCKBFC #HeroISL #HeroISLPlayoffs #LetsFootball #BengaluruFC #KeralaBlasters pic.twitter.com/HkKkLCBMqE
— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) March 3, 2023
In conclusion, Bengaluru FC secured their spot in the semi-final with a controversial Sunil Chhetri freekick, while the Kerala Blasters walked off the field in protest. However, the win was later awarded to Bengaluru, who will now face off against Mumbai City FC in the semi-final.