Football fans across India were treated to a thrilling finale of the Indian Super League as Bengaluru FC and ATK Mohun Bagan battled it out for the coveted title at the Fatorda Stadium. Simon Grayson’s team had a dominant second-half of the season, managing to turn their fortunes around after a disappointing start and securing an impressive 10-game winning streak. Meanwhile, Juan Ferrando’s ATK Mohun Bagan, reached their second ISL final in three years, and were eager to add the silverware to their trophy cabinet. Nevertheless, following 120 minutes of nail-biting action and a grueling penalty shootout, ATK Mohun Bagan emerged victorious and claimed the ISL trophy in Goa.
The highly anticipated final of the ISL kicked off with an unexpected early substitution, as Sunil Chhetri was called upon in just the third minute to replace Sivasakthi, who had taken a blow to the face. The Mariners had their first chance soon after, as a chip found Ashique unmarked on the left flank, but Dimitri Petratos failed to convert despite the ball ricocheting uncomfortably off the Blues’ defense.
Bengaluru responded with a flurry of chances, with Roy Krishna’s cross finding Javi Hernandez, whose acrobatic effort was blocked by Subhashish Bose. Despite continued pressure, Bengaluru were unable to force a save from Vishal Kaith. However, the opening goal of the game came from an unexpected source, as Roy Krishna handled the ball during a set piece, gifting a penalty to ATK Mohun Bagan. Petratos made no mistake as he calmly slotted the ball past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to give the Mariners the lead early in the match.
Undeterred, Bengaluru pushed for an equalizer, with a ball over the top of the Bagan defense nearly finding Chhetri, but Pritam Kotal made a brave clearance. The Blues also had a chance to equalize from a free kick won by Chhetri, but Javi’s powerful kick was caught by Kaith. Over the course of a few minutes, Bengaluru had yet another chance as Krishna curled a ball into the Bagan box, but Jhingan’s header went just wide. The Blues also had their own shouts for a penalty, as Pritam Kotal seemed to have caught Krishna’s leg after the ball had gone through, but the referee waved away their appeals.
Despite continuing to push forward and put pressure on the Bagan defense, Bengaluru found it difficult to break through. However, just before the end of the first half, a bad touch from Bose gave Krishna a chance to redeem himself for his earlier mistake. As the Fijian chased the ball, Bose kicked him instead of the ball, resulting in a penalty for Bengaluru. Sunil Chhetri easily converted to equalize the score right at the brink of half time.
Juan Ferrando and Grayson had made changes to their respective sides, with Hnamte coming in for Glan Martins for Bagan and Pablo Perez replacing Jovanovic for Bengaluru. The Blues had a chance early on in the half, as Prabir Das whipped in a cross that almost reached Roy Krishna, but Vishal Kaith collected the ball quickly. Soon after, Ashique Kurnuniyan was subbed off for Liston Colaco, who almost put the Mariners in the lead with a powerful shot on goal that required Gurpreet to stretch and make an acrobatic save. However, the rebound fell to Dimitri Petratos, who failed to convert the opportunity and mishit the ball outside.
ATK Mohun Bagan kept pushing for the winner, as Petratos and Hugo combined inside the box, but Boumous had to foul Jhingan in order to put the ball into the net. Bengaluru also had an opportunity to score their second of the game when Pablo Perez went through the Bagan midfield and set up Chhetri, who pulled the ball back to Rohit Kumar. However, Slavko Damjanovic blocked the resulting shot.
But the effort was not in vain, as the resulting set-piece found Roy Krishna at the far-post, who rose higher than any Bagan defender and headed the ball into the net, sending the stadium into a frenzy. As the Bengaluru players rushed to celebrate with their Fijian talisman, Roy celebrated with folded hands as a sign of respect to his former club.
However, just when ATK Mohun Bagan thought they were out of the game, the referee pointed to the spot again, giving them a golden opportunity to equalize. The decision was questionable, as it seemed like Pablo Perez had fouled Kiyan Nassiri outside the box. But Dimi Petratos made absolutely no mistake as he calmly slotted the ball past Gurpreet to restore parity for the Mariners.
The game turned chaotic as soon as Bagan equalized, with both teams getting into each other’s boxes and creating chances. Sunil Chhetri mishit his bicycle kick effort, while Manvir and Petratos combined to almost score the winner, but Prabir Das cleared the ball heroically before it could do any harm. The second half had been a rollercoaster of emotions, with both teams putting their heart and soul into the game. As the second half came to an end, the scores were level, and the game had gone into extra time, keeping the fans at the edge of their seats.
Bengaluru had a momentous opportunity to secure their win when Rohit Kumar expertly curled the ball towards the net in extra-time, but narrowly missed his target. As the clock ticked on, both teams seemed content with keeping possession in the middle of the park and forcing the game to penalties.
However, the start of the second half of extra time saw a moment of excitement when Roy Krishna found himself with a golden opportunity to put the ball past Kaith, catching the Bagan defence off guard. Unfortunately, he skyed his effort, and the scoreline remained level. Moments later, Dimi Petratos delivered an exceptional cross into the box from the left flank, but Manvir Singh failed to convert the easy header.
In the 118th minute, Petratos almost secured his hat-trick when he unleashed a powerful shot towards the Bengaluru goal. The ball wobbled in the air, causing Gurpreet to fumble it as it nearly found the back of the net. The atmosphere inside the stadium was charged with tension as both teams put in their utmost effort in the closing stages of the game, fully aware that any slip-up could result in losing the trophy.The match was now heading towards penalties.
The tension in the stadium had reached its peak as the players stepped up to take their spot kicks. The first four penalties were converted with ease by Petratos, Alan Costa, Roy Krishna, and Liston Colaco. The score was level at 2-2, and it seemed like the shootout would go down to the wire.
However, Vishal Kaith, the Golden Glove winner, had other plans. He dived in the right direction to save Bruno Ramires’ kick, giving ATK Mohun Bagan a crucial advantage. The Mariners extended their lead to 3-2 when Kiyan Nassiri converted his penalty with ease. The pressure was on Bengaluru’s Sunil Chhetri to score, and he did not disappoint, calmly slotting the ball past Kaith to make it 3-3.
Manvir Singh stepped up to take the fourth penalty for Bagan, and he made no mistake, sending the ball into the back of the net to give them a 4-3 lead. Bengaluru’s fate now rested on the shoulders of Pablo Perez, who knew that a miss would mean the end of the game for his team. The pressure was too much for the Spaniard, and he skyed his effort, sending the ball high over the crossbar. The ATK Mohun Bagan dugout erupted in ecstasy as they had now lifted the ISL trophy.
Kaith was the hero of the shootout, making a crucial save that gave his team the momentum they needed to win the game. It was a thrilling end to a fantastic game and Juan Ferrando had finally lifted the ISL Trophy with ATK Mohun Bagan.
The 2022-23 season of the Indian Super League was an electrifying season filled with remarkable games and unwavering persistence of the teams. Mumbai City FC’s success in clinching the ISL Shield was a clear indication of their remarkable dominance, whereas the breathtaking encounter between ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC in the final was truly a spectacle. As the season draws to a close, fans can only wait for the Super Cup which will see their teams return back to action. Until then, let’s treasure the memories and revel in the incredible moments this season has given us.
Follow our website for the latest updates on Indian Football.