Bengaluru FC finished atop Group A of the 2023 Super Cup and made their way into the semifinal with a 1-1 against Kerala Blasters at the EMS Stadium, in Kozhikode, on Sunday. Krishna’s early strike was canceled out by Diamantakos in the second period, but it was defeat for fellow semifinal aspirants Sreenidi Deccan against RoundGlass Punjab that helped the Blues on their way to a final-four clash against Jamshedpur FC.
Ahead of the game, Bengaluru Head Coach Simon Grayson rolled out an attacking side as Udanta Singh replaced Parag Shrivas, while Roy Krishna partnered Sunil Chhetri in the final third, in place of Sivasakthi Narayanan. The Blasters, meanwhile, made five changes to the eleven that started in their 2-0 defeat to Sreenidi Deccan on Wednesday.
The Blues dominated the early proceedings with quick interplay, utilizing the pace of Udanta and Naorem Roshan Singh on the flanks. Udanta was in the thick of things early on, when Danish Farooq brought him down in the Blasters’ half in the 8th minute. The resulting free-kick, taken by Javi Hernandez, deflected off Victor Mongil’s head and went over the crossbar.
Grayson’s men made their good start count in the 22nd minute, when Hernandez beat his marker before setting Krishna through on goal. Although the Fijian’s initial effort was saved by Blasters’ goalkeeper Sachin Suresh, Krishna persevered to score on the rebound; his shot heaped over the line by Mongil’s attempted clearance.
Both teams continued to make forays into the final third, but Bengaluru’s defence ensured that Gurpreet remained the less busier of the two goalkeepers going in at half-time.
Frank Dauwen’s side had a chance to equalize just minutes into the restart when they won a free kick after Roshan brought Rahul KP down just outside the box. Dimitrios Diamantakos stepped up and unleashed a powerful shot, but the Blues’ custodian put out a strong hand to parry the Greek striker’s effort over the crossbar.
The Men in Yellow looked to refresh their approach and Dauwen went to his bench as a result, bringing on Jeakson Singh and Hormipam Ruivah in place of Danish Farooq and Mohammed Saheef. The game continued to move swiftly with chances occurring at either end. Nishu Kumar came close in the 67th minute, when his shot from the left was parried away by Gurpreet. A minute later, it was the turn of his counterpart Sachin, who parried Udanta’s effort on goal, after the winger had been put through with a long pass by Gurpreet.
But the Blasters’ continued forays into the box bore fruit in the 78th minute, when Diamantakos latched onto a deflected touch before heading home from close range to level the score on the night. Buoyed by the equalizer, Dauwen’s side continued to push for the lead, but the Blues held on to settle the game at parity, as the points were shared at the EMS Stadium, in Kozhikode.
Bengaluru will face Jamshedpur FC in the first semifinal of the 2023 Super Cup, at the EMS Stadium, in Kozhikode, on Friday.