The evening began with fans of both sides assembling at Kanteerava Stadium as the teams, i.e. Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC, were set to lock horns for the final time in the 2022-2023 season of the Hero ISL. The emotions of the fans of both teams were riding on this as it was the knockout stage under the newly implemented rules. The evening’s victors would play in the semi-finals.
The game began animatedly with each side swiftly mounting attacks while also thwarting the attempts with equal skill. Both sides were awarded plenty of set pieces but none of them was capitalized upon. Despite having plenty of successes from set pieces in this ISL, none saw a successful conversion into a goal in the first half.
The defense on each side was strong with each player having a member of the opposing team marked. Bengaluru dominated the half having the most chances to score. Roy Krishna almost scored with a header in the 24th minute but missed the target. Despite having fewer attempts Kerala Blasters weren’t too far behind and in the game, they gave Bengaluru multiple scares. Kerala Blasters almost got an opportunity from a corner in the 33rd minute but failed to keep it on target. Meanwhile, the linesman had already flagged him offside.
The second half began on an equal footing as both sides create opportunities for scoring in close succession. KBFC came close in the 49th minute but Bengaluru’s goalkeeper thwarted the attempt. Roy Krishna led the retaliation in the 54th minute but the attempt was missed and transformed into a goal kick for the Kerala Blasters. Sunil Chhetri was introduced at the 72nd minute so that his experience might resolve the impasse. However, this half to met its end with neither team scoring and being closer to the ISL semifinals.
As a victor must be determined the game moved on into extra time. Controversy struck in this half. The half began like any other. In the 96th minute, Sunil Chhetri got awarded a free kick close to the goal. After conversing with the referee he swiftly lobbed the ball and his shot finds the mark. However, KBFC began to protest saying the referee did not blow the whistle and awarded the goal. Things reached a peak when Vukomanovic called his players off the pitch. BFC players and fans were left flabbergasted as their opponents had gone off the pitch in protest. Fans too start trickling out of the stadium as their team made no sign of moving back on the pitch.
It is the first time in the ISL that such an incident has been recorded. Attempts were made to ease the tension and call Bengaluru FC back on the pitch but none of the entreaties worked. As the clock seemed to have run out, the match was declared over with Bengaluru FC moving on to the semifinals of the 2022-2023 season of the ISL. It is a travesty that such a beautiful match had to come to an end in such a way.
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