Bengaluru: India captain Sunil Chhetri led Bengaluru FC to a historic AFC Cup final by scripting an inspiring 3-1 win over defending champions Johor Darul Ta'zim with his stunning double strike, here on Wednesday.
Bengaluru made it to the final by virtue of superior aggregate goal difference of 4-2. The first leg in Malaysia ended in a 1-1 draw.
It is a historic day for Indian football as no club from the country has ever made it to the summit clash of the prestigious second-tier continental tournament.
After the Malaysian team went ahead with Shafiq Rahim's 11th minute goal, Chhetri struck the equaliser in the 41st minute and put the side ahead in the 67th minute. Bengaluru's win was sealed when Spanish defender Juan Antonio found the back of the net in the 75th minute.
In front of a packed stadium, the hosts, who trailed 0-1 till the 41st minute, saw their skipper rising to the occasion as he nodded home a Eugenson Lyngdoh flag kick. Chhetri evaded the defence and timed his jump to perfection to bring the 'Blues' back in the match.
However, the defining moment came in the second half when Chhetri made space for himself from 30-yards and took a crack with his in-step to slot home, beating the outstretched hands of custodian Izham.
Lyngdoh who had a dream night at the centre of the park also had a hand in the final goal which shut the defending champions out of the contest.
An indirect free kick was beautifully swerved into the 18-yard box as the lanky Juan out jumped the defensive melee to place the delivery to perfection as the fans went into delirium.
The significance of this achievement could be gauged by the fact that only two Indian football clubs -- Dempo Sports Club of Goa and Kolkata giants East Bengal -- had made it to the semifinals of the tournament since its inception.