The last time East Bengal played in a final in Indian football was in the Super Cup, five years ago, on on April 20, 2018.
East Bengal faced Bengaluru FC in the final and it was the Blues that beat the Red and Gold Brigade 4-1 at the Kalinga Stadium. Sunil Chhetri was one of the goalscorers for Bengaluru FC in that match.
Following is the match report from Sportstar’s reporter, Aashin Prasad, of that match.
A moment of madness from Samad Ali Mallick proved costly for East Bengal as Bengaluru FC romped to a commanding win to clinch the inaugural AIFF Super Cup.
With the match poised one-all, the young defender’s red card allowed the Blues to seal the game, through goals from skipper Sunil Chhetri and Miku in the second half.
However, it could have spelt danger for Gurpreet Singh and Bengaluru as early as the seventh minute. The goalkeeper appeared to bring down an onrushing Ansumana Kromah, with the goal gaping, but, the referee didn’t deem it as a last-man challenge.
Set-pieces were in focus as both teams opened their scoring from corner kicks in the opening half.
Right before the cooling break, Katsumi Yusa crossed it into a crowded area, to which, Gurpreet could only get his hand to. Kromah reacted quickest to the loose ball with an overhead kick to give East Bengal the lead.
Nevertheless, it was all Bengaluru from there on. In the 39th minute, Bheke outwrestled Kromah to thump in a powerful header from a Victor Perez delivery to make it 1-1.
The Blues’ persistent pressure almost got them a second, but Perez fluffed his shot when played through on goal.
The turning point of the game came when Ali Mallick struck Subhasish Bose across his face in first-half added time. The referee saw no option but to send him off.
The Red and Gold managed to keep Bengaluru at bay for a little over 20 minutes in the second period before the Blues were awarded a penalty; Gurwinder Singh had handled a cross from a corner inside the box. Chhetri stepped up to bury it past the goalkeeper.
In the 71st minute, East Bengal defenders offered Miku too much time inside the box as he received the ball, before turning inside to curl it into the top corner for the third. The strike prompted celebrations in the BFC camp.
Bengaluru managed to see out the game from there before Chhetri crowned the win with a header in the dying minutes.
Bengaluru FC: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu(GK), Rahul Bheke, Juanan, John Johnson, Subhasish Bose, Lenny Rodrigues, Erik Paartalu (Toni Dovale 60’), Victor Perez, Miku, Sunil Chhetri (C), Udanta Singh (Boithamg Haokip 90+1’)
East Bengal FC: Ubaid CK (GK), Lalramchullova, Eduardo Ferreira, Gurwinder Singh, Samad Ali Mallick (Red Card 45+2’), Khalid Aucho, Mahmoud Al Amna, Cavin Lobo © (Deepak Kumar 52’), Katsumi Yusa, Laldanmawia Ralte (Jobby Justin 84’), Ansumana Kromah (Dudu Omagbeni 89’).
Referee: C. R. Srikrishna (Coimbatore)