I-League qualifiers: Injury-time penalty rescues point for FC Bengaluru United against ARA FC

Substitute Asrar Rehber successfully converted from the spot with the game’s last kick to rescue a point for Bengaluru United.

Bengaluru United and Ara FC stand third and fourth on the points table respectively.   -  Twitter/ Hero I-league

Gujarat-based ARA FC and FC Bengaluru United played out a pulsating 1-1 draw in the Hero I-League Qualifiers 2020 at the Kalyani Stadium on Wednesday.

It appeared that forward Pratik Swami’s strike would prove to be the difference between the two sides but substitute Asrar Rehber successfully converted from the spot with the game’s last kick to rescue a point for Bengaluru United.

Both teams came into the match on the back of contrasting results, with Bengaluru United defeating Garhwal FC by one goal in their last game and ARA suffering a deflating 4-1 loss to Mohammedan Sporting.

READ: Bhawanipore’s I-League dream remain on course after win over Garhwal

However, it was the side from Gujarat that went into the breather with the lead — thanks to Swami’s goal in the 36th minute.

Vivek Nagul’s side started brightly, with Stanley Eze posing danger with a deft through-ball in the 10th minute.

However, it was snuffed out just in the nick of time by keeper Kunzang Bhutia. The Nigerian then had a scoring opportunity in the next minute with a close-range free-kick but his shot flew just over the bar.

Midfielder Jordan Fernandes came close for ARA in the 16th minute as well, shooting powerfully from distance but his effort was deflected and landed on the roof of the FCBU net.

Wearing the captain’s armband for Bengaluru United was forward Azharuddin Mallick and he was presented with his team’s best chance of the half in the 19th minute.

Collecting the ball inside the box, he turned his marker and fired a shot straight towards ARA custodian Melroy Fernandes who collected comfortably at his near post.

As both teams jostled for supremacy, ARA took the lead through a splendid goal from local Ahmedabad lad Pratik Swamy. A blocked shot from Jordan fell to Swami, who cut inside the defender with an excellent feint and saw his powerful shot take a wicked deflection to fly past Bhutia in goal.

FCBU head coach Richard Hood made two changes at the break, bringing in Akhil P and Aditya Mohan as his side looked to make their way into the match.

READ: I-League Qualifiers: Winless Garhwal takes on Bhawanipore, Bengaluru United faces ARA

In the 53rd minute, they came close through William Opoku, who had scored the winning goal against Garhwal as well, but his shot from a narrow angle could only hit the side net.

The Ghanaian had another golden opportunity with 20 minutes to go as he played in Amey Ranawade with a pinpoint through ball. The full-back cut the ball back to Opoku at the edge of the penalty box area but he scuffed his first-time shot as it sailed well over the cross-bar.

He had another similar chance in the 76th minute via a cross from the left side by Aditya Mohan but yet again, his shot went over the target.

Bengaluru continued to commit men forward and in the 84th minute, Robert Primus headed a long throw-in dangerously across the ARA goal, but none of his teammates followed up at the far post and the chance went begging.

ARA showed grit to hold firm and defended in numbers as they tried to maintain the clean sheet. However, in the last minute of added time, heartbreak was to follow for the Gujarati side as FCBU substitute Jaison Vaz was brought down by keeper Melroy — with the referee pointing to the spot.

Rehber found the back of the net from 12 yards as both sides split a point each.

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