Bengaluru FC official website Bengaluru FC are Durand Cup champions

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Grayson’s men win elusive title as Blues beat Mumbai City 2-1 in final

Bengaluru FC added another piece of silverware to an already impressive collection when they were crowned champions of the historic Durand Cup, beating Mumbai City FC 2-1, at Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata on Sunday. Sivasakthi Narayanan (11′) opened the scoring for Bangalore at the start of the game with a fine hold, before a tap-in from Apuia Ralte (30′) from close range allowed Mumbai to equalise. But Alan Costa’s smashing header (61st) from a corner was enough to see Simon Grayson begin his reign as Bengaluru coach with a title.

Grayson made two changes to the side that faced Hyderabad FC in the semi-finals when Sivasakthi replaced Rohit Kumar, while Alan Costa started ahead of Parag Shrivas at the back. Des Buckingham recalled the services of Apuia, while Greg Stewart and Lallianzuala Chhangte continued in attack.

Bengaluru started the stronger of the two teams and scored with what was their first chance of the game. Aleksandar Jovanovic, spotting Sivasakthi with a chance to run to the Islanders baseline, lifted a punt over the top that Mourtada Fall missed. Sensing the opportunity, Sivasakthi continued his run and pushed the Senegalese defender out of the way, before firing a mature finish on Phurba Lachenpa to put his side ahead.

Grayson’s side attacked with intent down both flanks as Naorem Roshan Singh and Prabir Das stretched play at every opportunity. Ahmed Jahouh had Mumbai’s first chance, with his shot from distance missing the target, before the Buckingham side found the equalizer through Apuia on the half-hour mark.

Stewart’s quick free kick allowed Mumbai a shot on target which Gurpreet Singh Sandhu managed to parry. However, Apuia was aware of the danger and managed to head home on the rebound after Sandesh Jhingan’s final challenge attempt.

Just eight minutes later, Sivasakthi almost regained the lead for Bengaluru after Alan Costa’s header from a corner fell on Roy Krishna. The Fijian international’s shot found its way to Sivasakthi, who attempted a scrape finish, but Jahouh clung to the line to keep it level.

In the second half, Bengaluru got the first chance when Sivasakthi forced Lachenpa into a wayward pass which Chhetri intercepted before feeding Krishna into space. Krishna’s attempt from range appeared to be heading for the goal, but for Mumbai defender Royston Griffiths, who nodded.

The Blues continued to drive forward looking for the header and nearly found it when Jayesh Rane’s deft chip found Chhetri unmarked in the box. The skipper took a touch and composed himself, but his shot was blocked by a fine save from Lachenpa. From the resulting corner, however, Bengaluru would regain their lead.

Chhetri’s delivery, launched with pace, was met by a hard-hitting header from Brazilian defender Costa, which flew over Lachenpa and put Grayson’s side ahead again. Costa would be substituted shortly after, as Grayson sounded a first change of the evening, introducing Parag Shrivas.

In the final quarter, the hosts made two changes as Fall and Vinit Rai were replaced by Alberto Noguera and Mehtab Singh. Bengaluru had a chance to put the game to bed in the 87th minute when Chhetri was found in the box by Sivasakthi, but the skipper, who managed to get past two defenders, saw his effort fly over the bar.

In injury time, Mumbai almost equalized through Stewart, who managed to shoot but it was off target. The Blues then return to the Indian Super League, where they begin with a clash against NorthEast United at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru on October 8.

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