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Chennaiyin beat Bengaluru to claim second ISL title

Chennaiyin beat Bengaluru to claim second ISL title”

While Bengaluru FC steamrolled through the league phase, finishing comfortably first, it was more of a see-saw battle for Chennai, who started the season in disastrous fashion by going down 0-3 in the first half they played against FC Goa. It's the team that has been earmarked as favourites to win the title since the season began versus the team that has the defensive nous to stop them from doing so.

Ultimately, like a long-distance runner who leads a race all through but is pipped at the finish line by the guy behind him, Bengaluru FC, despite storming through the league stage and semifinal, lost the ISL final to Chennaiyin 3-2 on Saturday.

It were Bengaluru who enjoyed the better start as they took the lead thanks to a ninth minute strike fron Sunil Chhetri. But Bengaluru fans will know that a home team has never won the ISL final: Goa (2015) and Kerala (2016) left their home grounds with massive heartaches. For Bengaluru, chasing their fifth title in five years, this would be a harsh initiation to the ISL. This is already their second final and they have done well in the league in the past. And there was also some Brazilian touch to the game. Against FC Goa in the semi-finals, Chennaiyin FC negated the threat of Goa's unsafe strike pair of Ferran Corominas and Manuel Lanzarote and will hope to do the same against Sunil Chhetri and Miku, who have combined to score 27 of their 38 goals.

Chennaiyin's plans paid off brilliantly for them as they targeted scoring for set-pieces and on the counter-attack with Bengaluru playing a back-three. Jeje Lalpekhlua after starting the season well endured a six-match goal drought but return to action with a brace against Goa in the semi-finals, rightly repaying the trust shown by his manager.

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"I have been on the opposite side, being down by a goal at half-time, and it really deflates you".

Chennaiyin on the other hand with a strong resolute midfield at their heart will expect to keep the Bengaluru forwards quiet. They held most of the possession and were rewarded for it in the 16th minute. "Chhetri and Miku's performances have been similar to Coro's and Lanza's".

Bengaluru were quick off the blocks, spraying the ball around with intent while the attack went about making space in pockets all around. "All the guys they are unbelievable and we're very happy", said Chennai skipper Henrique Sereno.

This is where Bengaluru won their second I-League title and beat defending champions Johor Darul Ta'zim of Malaysia to enter AFC Cup final. "We need to do the same for Chhetri and Miku tomorrow", said Chennaiyin coach John Gregory while emphasising that Bengaluru will have the crowd as their 12th man at the Kanteerava but his team will fear nothing. We know they are not infallible at home. "It will be the most hard game of the season", said Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca.

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