Delhi FC saw off a late push from Kerala Blasters to beat the Indian Super League (ISL) side 1-0 and enter the quarterfinals of the 2021 Durand Cup at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium on Tuesday. In the other Group C decider, Bengaluru FC came back from 0-2 down to win 5-3 at the Salt Lake Stadium to seal their knockouts berth.
With all four teams of Group C having a mathematical chance to qualify in the final round of matches, things were expected to be competitive, despite difficult pitch conditions due to heavy rain. Wth Navy Leading 2-0 at half time, Blasters had a glimmer of hope in their match, which was deadlocked 0-0.
It was important for Blasters or Delhi to score early in the second half and take advantage by adding pressure on the opposition. Delhi managed to do just that, in the 53rd minute, and defended their hearts out as Blasters went into hyperdrive to wrest the advantage back.
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Willis Deon Plaza gave Delhi the lead in the 53rd minute, and the I-League second division side did what was expected. Defend. They are in the knockouts and with Plaza, who is the top scorer of the tournament with four goals, in good form, anything is possible going forward.
Meanwhile, at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan (YBK), an upset was brewing it seemed. By the end of the first-half, it was the Indian Navy team leading 2-0 against favourites Bengaluru.
The Blues looked totally off colour for the first 45 minutes. They missed quite a number of chances and the Indian Navy dominated the game for almost the entire half.
In the 19th minute, F Jijo took a shot from outside the box to give Navy the lead. A few minutes later, Bengaluru had a golden opportunity to equalize when Harmanpreet’s cross was received by Siva Sakthi. But his cross footed shot sailed over the bar.
In the 30th minute, VG Sreyas scored the second for Navy.
Bengaluru looked a different side in the second half. Just a few minutes after half time, a fumble in the Navy goal gave Bengaluru’s Leon Augustine an easy chance to score his team’s first goal. However, he missed.
Things changed quickly as Bengaluru raised the tempo. A smart turn by Eugeneson Lyngdoh opened up the Navy defence and Augustine halved the deficit in the 53rd minute.
Bengaluru wrested the momentum and were drawn back on level terms by Harmanpreet Singh in the 61st minute.
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In the 75th minute, Bengaluru were awarded a penalty which Ajay Chhetri converted.
Harmanpreet got his second of the game in the 81st minute to make it 4-2, essentially ending all hopes of Navy. Thoi Singh added a fifth in stoppage time but there was still room for one last goal, J Vijay scoring a consolation for Navy to end the game 5-3.
Bengaluru topped Group C with the victory, while Delhi FC went through to the quarterfinals as runners-up.
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