Bengaluru FC vs Chennai City FC - As it happened

Re-live Sportstar's live coverage of the Hero Super Cup 2019 quarterfinal clash between Bengaluru FC and Chennai City FC played at Bhubaneshwar's Kalinga Stadium.

Chennai City FC and Bengaluru FC

Newly crowned I-League and Indian Super League champions, Chennai City FC and Bengaluru FC.   -  AIFF MEDIA/ VIVEK BENDRE

Welcome to Sportstar's live blog of the Hero Super Cup 2019 quarterfinal clash between Indian Super League winner Bengaluru FC and I-League champion Chennai City FC.

This is Shyam Vasudevan here and I'll be giving you company through this evening's 'Clash of Champions.'

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What a fantastic evening of football we've witnessed: two quality goals, a missed penalty, and the elimination of the defending champion. Bengaluru FC gave it everything it had but Chennai City was just better on the evening.

Read the match report here: Chennai City trounces Bengaluru 2-1

THAT'S THE GAME! CHENNAI CITY FC HAS DONE IT! THE I-LEAGUE CHAMPION HAS TROUNCED BENGALURU FC 2-1 TO ADVANCE TO THE SEMIS OF THE HERO SUPER CUP 2019.

90+2' We're down to the last two minutes of play and it's getting all tense here. Can Chennai City hold on or will the reigning champion Bengaluru manage to sneak a goal?

90' We're going to have four minutes of added time. Enough time for Bengaluru to get an equaliser?

89' Third and final change for Chennai City: Pravitto replaces Regin.

88' WHAT A SAVE! My word, Mauro is undoubtedly the hero of the game. Bheke plays a pinpoint cross for Chhetri and the latter latches onto it, but Mauro makes a sharp low save to deny him.

86' Late change for Chennai City: Goal-scorer Gordillo is replaced by Jozef Kaplan.

80' This one's going down to the wire! Bengaluru is launching into attack after attack, while the Chennai City defence is somehow holding on. Will we see a late goal coming?

76' CHANCE! Dimas plays a teasing cross into the box and Boithang leaps high to try and get a header off, but can't reach the ball.

75' Not a great sign if you're Akbar Nawas. Sandro goes down to ground and appears to have picked up a calf injury. Update: he's back on the pitch and seems just fine.

72' Mauro's the hero again! He races off his line to collect the ball before Boithang can get to it. Brave, brave save from the Chennai City custodian.

68' What a fantastic save! Chhetri plays a terrific lob and Dimas gets off a fine header, but Mauro makes a gravity-defying save to parry it away for a corner.

65' CHHETRI BAGS THE GOAL! Dimas delivers the corner and an unmarked Chhetri finds the back of the net to make it 2-1. What a way to make amends. The Bengaluru skipper goes unnoticed in the centre and he times his header to perfection to reduce the deficit and offer his side a much-needed ray of hope with 25 minutes to go.

62' Cuadrat makes a double change: Khabra and Xisco are replaced by Boithang Haokip and Albert Serran.

59' The tempers, they are a flaring. Bengaluru players, clearly miffed with the sudden change in momentum, appear to roughen up the ref while Chennai City's Regin goes into the book for a foul on Dimas.

55' WHAT A GOAAAAAAAAAAAAL! MANZI IT IS! Nestor plays an exquisite lob towards Pedro Manzi and the Spaniard unleashes a stunning strike past a hapless Gurpreet Singh and doubles Chennai City FC's lead. This is Manzi's 25th goal of the season!

52' HE MISSES! Mauro gets his guess right and dives to his right to stop Chhetri's spot-kick. What a night he's having! Surely, surely has to be one of the biggest talking points of the game.

52' Penalty for Bengaluru! Romario tugs at Chhetri's shirt in the box and the ref has awarded a penalty!

48' Bengaluru FC gets off to a fine attacking start, but can't really create a goal-scoring chance in the early stages of the second half.

It's been an absorbing 45 minutes of action, and at the end of it Chennai City has a 1-0 lead. Bengaluru dominated the session in terms of ball possession (53 percent) and shots, but failed to really trouble the goalkeeper. Chennai City, on the other hand, put up a resilient defensive display to keep the Bengaluru attack at bay. The side had only one shot on goal, which was Nestor's 15th minute goal.

There's everything to play for in the next 45 and rest assured, Bengaluru will go all guns blazing. An enthralling half awaits!

45+2' There goes the half-time whistle and it's Nestor Gordillo's 15th minute strike that separates the two sides.

45+1' Another cross from Udanta that's begging to be converted, but yet again there's no one at the end of it! Bengaluru's attacking woes continue...

45' The fourth official has announced two minutes of added time.

44' What a chance! Nestor beats the offside trap and bolts towards goal. He squares it for Manzi in the centre but the latter can't get to the ball. Nestor should have perhaps gone for goal, eh?

40' It's raining crosses from the right but Bengaluru has surprisingly struggled to convert any. Chhetri had a chance a minute ago but Mauro made a stunning save to deny him. Bengaluru looking a tad off-colour in the finishing department.

35' How is Khabra still on the pitch? That tackle should have sent him straight to the showers! He lunges towards the ball, in a bid to put it past Mauro, but ends up striking the Chennai City goalkeeper on the shin. It's a reckless challenge to say the least and could have easily have left Mauro with a broken shin! The ref awards him a yellow, but that looks like a straight red to me. Living on thin ice, is Harmanjot Khabra.

30' It's been a very interesting half hour of play. Chennai City has done remarkably well to keep this potent Bengaluru attack in check. Akbar Nawas' men haven't been the most efficient in defence, but have managed to get the job done. Bengaluru, on the other hand, continues to attack down the flanks, but has struggled to find its much-needed finishing touch.

27' Early change for Chennai City: Ameerudeen has been replaced by Alexander Romario.

25' Marvellous Mauro! The Chennai City custodian makes an excellent acrobatic save to deny Miku's strike from distance.

23' Another chance for Bengaluru! Udanta makes a dizzying run down the right flank, works his way around two defenders and flashes a grounded cross across the goalmouth that's begging to be converted, but there's no blue t-shirt at the end of it.

20' How did miss that?! Miku plays a superb lob and Xisco has the goal at his mercy, but he blazes his attempt just above the crossbar. That was undoubtedly Bengaluru's best chance thus far, a chance you'd expect Xisco to bury into the back of the net on any given day.

17' Here's a fun fact, Chennai City has lost only one game after scoring the opening goal this season. Sign of what's to come?

15' GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! Nestor Gordillo puts Chennai City ahead! What a swing of momentum! Tarif Akhand plays a peach of ball towards Nestor and the Spaniard does extremely well to control it and calmly slots it past Gurpreet to give his side the early lead.

13' What a chance for Sandro! Ediwn Vanspaul plays a lovely lob down the centre and Sandro is through on goal, but fails to find the target. First real chance of the game.

11' Scorcher of a run this, from Nishu! Manzi releases Ameen down the right and Nishu absolutely guns the throttle to get there before the CCFC winger. Top stuff!

10' Bengaluru has dominated the opening 10 minutes. Cuadrat's men have piled the pressure on the Chennai City defence with repeated forays into the attacking third, but haven't registered a shot on target yet. Chennai City appears a little jittery at the back, but has managed to ward off the danger time and again.

7' This is going to be a very interesting battle to look forward to : Udanta vs Ajithkumar. Udanta's trickery and pace is well-known, but Ajith is equally fast, mind you!

5' The freekick is floated into the box and Chhetri plays it towards Juanan at the far post, but Gaurav Bora makes a last-ditch header to send it out for a corner. A powerful corner is fired into the box and after a lot of struggling, the CCFC defence manages to clear its lines.

4' Ouch! Sriram, who replaces Charles, makes a rather rash studs-up challenge on Udanta and Bengaluru wins a freekick. Sriram should consider himself lucky to have not gone into the ref's book for that one!

2' Offside! Khabra plays Udanta down the right flank, but the Bengaluru winger is found offside. The pacy Udanta will be among the key players to watch out for tonight.

8:25 pm: The two sides are on the pitch and we're minutes away from kick-off! Can Bengaluru inch closer to defending its Super Cup trophy or will Chennai City remain in the hunt for its second title of the campaign?Have your say here:

 

8:20 pm: Interesting to see that Bengaluru has named an unchanged squad from its ISL final, where Rahul Bheke scored an extra-time winner. Chennai City has brought in Sriram B for the suspended Charles.  On paper, the two teams appear pretty even to me!

8:17 pm: Speaking of Eelco, he's among the front-runners for the Indian men's football team coach role. You reckon the Dutchman has what it takes to lead Indian football to newer heights? He's going to face stiff competition from the likes of Albert Roca, Aslhey Westwood and Sam Allardyce though.

8:15 pm: Though the lack of fans is a tad discouraging, the game has attracted the likes of some of the ISL coaches. Jamshedpur FC's Cesar Ferrando and NorthEast United's Eelco Schattorie in attendance.

8:10 pm: We're 20 minutes from kick-off and our reporter Aashin, who's at the Kalinga Stadium, says the stadium's pretty deserted. "Its pretty breezy here and the players wouldn't mind that. Chennai City and Bengaluru players are going through their final paces before kick-off. Hardly any turnout so far at the Kalinga Stadium for what is supposed to be the standout fixture of the tournament," he says.

8:05 pm: At the same time, it won't be fair to also state how consistent Bengaluru has been. For the second consecutive season, Bengaluru topped the ISL table and unlike last year, lifted the coveted title this year. Now Carles Cuadrat has a chance to become the first manager to lead BFC to two titles in the same season. Can Carles achieve the distinction? I forgot to mention, Bengaluru is the reigning Super Cup champion, ladies and gents. 

8:00 pm: We're exactly 30 minutes from the action! It's interesting to note that Chennai City comes into this edition of the Super Cup wearing the I-League crown, but could not make it to the round-of-16 last year! Akbar Nawas' men were handed a handsome 4-1 thrashing by ATK in the qualifier last year, and here they are this evening, as the champions of India. What a tale, eh?

7:35 pm: Line ups, line ups!

Bengaluru FC: Gurpreet Singh (GK), Rahul Bheke, Juanan, Nishu Kumar, Harmanjot Khabra, Dimas Delgado, Xisco Hernandez, Alejandro Barrera, Miku, Sunil Chhetri (C), Udanta Singh.

Chennai City FC: Mauro Boerchio (GK), Tarif Akhand, Edwin Vanspaul, Ajithkumar, Gaurav Bora, Sandro Rodriguez, Sriram B, Nestor Gordillo, Regin M, Pedro Manzi (C), Ameerudeen Mohaideen.

7:25 pm: Stat attack - Bengaluru FC has played ten games in Odisha, having won eight of them, in matches across the Federation Cup, Indian Super League, and Super Cup. 

7:15 pm: Will 'Captain, Leader, Legend' Sunil Chhetri have the last laugh or will the magnificent Pedro Manzi continue his red-hot form to steer CCFC to a win?
 

 

The tie promises to be a goal-fest as both sides finished with a phenomenal number of goals in their respective leagues. Bengaluru FC scored 34 goals on its way to win its maiden ISL trophy, while Chennai City hammered a staggering 48 goals in its title-winning campaign.

Another stat that adds spice to the game is the fact that Chennai City was the only team to beat Bengaluru at home this season. Yes, it was a friendly fixture before the commencement of the league, but it gives you a fair idea of just how dangerous this CCFC outfit is.

Our reporter Aashin Prasad is at the Kalinga Stadium covering the game and will be sending us live updates from the ground. Here's his preview:

Champions Bengaluru FC, Chennai City in quarterfinal face-off

In September last year, Bengaluru FC and Chennai City faced off against each other in two back-to-back closed-door pre-season friendlies. The Indian Super League side Bengaluru won the first game 5-0 while the I-League's Chennai City pulled one back in its favour, 2-1. There was talk surrounding the competitive nature of the line-ups in those matches and which result held more merit.

Six months on, both teams are convincing winners of their respective leagues. In the first quarterfinal fixture of the Super Cup at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Thursday, the teams can fight it out to be called the best team in the country.

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Bengaluru manager Carles Cuadrat recalled the defeat from September which made him take notice of Chennai City's fabled Spanish attacking trio — Pedro Manzi, Sandro Rodriguez and Nestor Gordillo. "I have to be honest, I saw the quality of the Spaniards and went ‘wow!’ I thought they know how to play the game and with the Indian players, they make a good team. They were the only Indian team to beat us at Kanteerava (this season). It wasn't an official game but we know the danger they pose," said Cuadrat.

Chennai City is the only team from its division left in the competition after Indian Arrows and Real Kashmir were knocked out in the round-of-16 stage. Seven other I-League clubs pulled out of the tournament owing to its differences with the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

The reigning I-League champion chose to play and outplayed FC Pune City 4-2 in the last-16 last week.

- Chennai City's attack vs Bengaluru's defence -

Striker Manzi was yet again at the heart of Chennai City's attacking prowess with a hat-trick, his fifth of the season taking his tally to 24 goals, and an assist for Rodriguez. Adding Gordillo to the fray, who was voted I-League best midfielder for the 2018-19 season, Bengaluru's defensive think tank will have its task cut out if it is to prolong its Super Cup title defence.

Bengaluru defender Rahul Bheke, who scored the late winner in the ISL final, sounded confident about stopping Chennai City's attack. "They have some quality foreigners but if we play as a team it won't be so easy for them. We will stick to our plan of how we want to play, surely we will win this game," said Bheke.

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To Bheke's credit, Bengaluru knows how to shut teams out; keeping seven clean sheets in 21 matches while Chennai managed it just twice. 

Bengaluru's own attacking troika of Miku (5 goals), Sunil Chhetri (9) and Udanta (5) will be a handful for Chennai City's inexperienced back four, which is still without Roberto Eslava.

Cuadrat praised both Miku and Manzi's goal-scoring threat and contributions in the build-up play. "They both have been having a wonderful season as strikers with not just goals but their overall play; making movements and creating chances for Chhetri and Udanta. Manzi is also that kind of player, who also assists others. It will be interesting how both the teams plan to stop these players," he said.

Tackling the conditions

Bhubaneswar's humid conditions remains a talking point and Thursday's match will be Bengaluru's first in the competition after it received a walkover in its round-of-16 fixture.

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Chennai City boss Akbar Nawas, however, does not believe his team will have an advantage over the ISL side. "I do not think we had a good preparation. We did not train the last two days because of the conditions. It would have been better had we gone back (to Coimbatore) and trained there," said Nawas.

(The match will kick-off at 8:30 pm and will be streamed live on Hotstar.)