AFC Cup: Bengaluru Go Down Fighting in Inter-Zone Final to Istiklol
Bengaluru FC crashed out of the AFC Cup football tournament following a 2-2 draw with FC Istiklol Dushanbe in the second leg of the Inter-Zone Final here on Wednesday.
After a 2-2 draw, Bengaluru FC failed to qualify for the AFC Cup finals. (Twitter/AFC Cup)
Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC crashed out of the AFC Cup football tournament following a 2-2 draw with FC Istiklol Dushanbe in the second leg of the Inter-Zone Final here on Wednesday.
Nuriddin Davronov (2nd minute) and Dmitry Barkov (56th) scored for the visitors from Tajikistan, while Rahul Bheke (24th) and Sunil Chhetri (65th) replied for the hosts. Bengaluru were reduced to 10 men shortly before half-time as Harmanjyot Singh Khabra was sent off following a second yellow card.
Istiklol clinched the tie 3-2 on aggregate as they had won the first leg 1-0 at home. Istiklol will now face defending Champions Air Force Club of Iraq in the final on November 4.
The Tajik league champions took the lead right after the start as they were awarded a penalty after a foul by Bengaluru goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Davronov stepped forward to fire home from the spot and put the visitors ahead.
Bheke equalised for Bengaluru when he headed in off a long throw in by Khabra. Bengaluru suffered a big setback in the 42nd minute as Khabra was handed his marching orders following his second yellow card for a tackle from behind.
Despite being a man down, the hosts created quite a few scoring chances in the second-half but were let down by poor finishing. Istiklol regained the lead in the second when Manuchekhr Dzhalilov sent in an accurate cross into the Bengaluru penalty box and Barkov tapped in at the far post.
The hosts soon levelled the scores for a second time in the match when Daniel Lalhlimpuia was brought down inside the Istiklol penalty box, prompting the referee to point towards the spot. Chhetri slammed home the penalty, to send the local crowd into joyous celebration.
The visitors had the last laugh, however, as they held on to deny a late surge by Bengaluru.
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