Popovic, Roca laud Chhetri masterclass

Leslie Hanson
March 12, 2018

Bengaluru FC will start as favourites in their own den but FC Pune City will heave a sigh of relief as their chief coach Ranko Popovic's interim suspension has been removed ahead of the secondleg semi-final of the Indian Super League, here on Sunday.

He deployed Boithang Haokip on the left, played Erik Paartalu alongside Delgado and allowed Chhetri to play through the centre alongside Miku.

Unfortunately for FC Pune City, the thorn in their side had again stung them as Chhetri won a penalty in the 65 minute of the game and readily put it away by doing a cheeky Panenka. The ball looped in, nearly in slow motion, to give Bengaluru a deserved first-half lead. Chetri was brought down by his India teammate Sarthak Golui with a push from the back after he had stolen possession on the wide left, before getting into the box.

But it was to be Chhetri's day as the striker streaked clear of Pune's Rohith Kumar to slot past the keeper and complete his hat-trick before jumping the barricade to celebrate in front of the fans at the stadium's West Block.

Disciplinary Committee Chairman, Ushanath Banerjee said that the decision has been taken keeping in mind the "interest of fair play" in the forthcoming semi-final match of FC Pune City.

"He is simply outstanding and there are no words to define him". This was such an important game, and he proved that he is always there when required.

On the other hand, FC Pune City coach Ranko Popovic rued his team's missed chances in the second leg but said that he is quite proud of what the team has achieved under his guidance this season.

"He's 33-34 but age doesn't matter".

"I am happy to have reached the final in our first season". The man who measured up to the challenge was their captain Sunil Chhetri, who struck a brilliant hat-trick and showed why he is India's best footballer by some distance. "The squad, technical staff.all were there (with the team) in such an important game", Roca said.

Coming into this game, Pune needed only a goal to make things complicated for the hosts. Chhetri quashed all their dreams and hopes, as he exhibited predatory instincts to go past his marker and score his third goal of the game and sealing the tie once and for all.

In comparison to Pune, Bengaluru have been the most impressive team this season, with Chhetri and Miku, having scored 24 goals between them. That was our idea. The visiting team also showed their desperation to get into the match after conceding the goal, as they received three yellow cards including one flashed to Diego Carlos, who indulged in the most disgraceful acts.

"We can not be disappointed". In some games, we get the chance to fightback but today, it was bit too much for us.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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