Eugeneson Lyndoh's dazzling strike canceled out Jorge Pereyra Diaz's opener and gave Bengaluru a crucial 1-1 draw away in the first leg of the semifinal of the AFC Cup. A goal-less draw in the second leg will now be enough to see Bengaluru through to the final – a first for an Indian team.
Bengaluru FC repeated the feat of Dempo and East Bengal to become the third Indian club to feature in the AFC Cup semifinal. However, they were hoping to go one better and create history by becoming the first Indian club to reach the final. But, the defending champions Johor Darul Ta'zim were in their way, and the Malaysian club had already defeated them twice in the group stage earlier this season. To add to their impressive head-to-head record, JDT
Johor Darul Ta'zim FC XI: Izham (GK);
Bengaluru FC XI: Amrinder (GK); Rino,
The away side made a blistering start to the first half as they made a conscious effort to press high up the pitch. The Malaysian club
Bengaluru dominated the opening 15 minutes of the match, but unfortunately, they could not translate the dominance into a goal. The tactic to press high up the pitch took a lot out of the Bengaluru players, and slowly their intensity dropped off. JDT began to gain control of the ball and find their footing in the match.
Eventually, Bengaluru dropped deep into their own half and the reigning champions tested their defence with a barrage of crosses from their wings. In the 26th minute,
Two minutes later, Amrinder was forced into another crucial save.
Bengaluru managed to keep hold of their clean sheet at the sound of the half-time whistle, but JDT maintained their dominance after the play resumed. Eventually, in the 52nd
However, just when Bengaluru were in need of inspiration, Lyngdoh came up with something special. In the 56th minute, the midfielder received the ball outside the JDT box, and it looked like he had nowhere to go. However, in a Messi-like moment of genius, he moved the ball to his left leg and opened up a bit of space for him, despite being surrounded by three players, before lashing in a thunderous drive into the net. It was a goal of the highest
The goal stunned the home side, and they pushed hard for an equalizer. However, they could not deliver enough quality in the final third of the pitch to test the Bengaluru goalkeeper. Bengaluru held on to a well-earned draw, and the away goal could prove to be the difference between the two sides at the end of the second leg. The Malaysian team will now travel to Bengaluru and will HAVE to get a positive result in front of the vociferous West Block Blues, while even a goal-less draw will be enough to see the Blues through to the final, and you would not bet against them to do that at this stage.
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