The Indian Super League (ISL) playoff match between hosts Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium was marred by controversy, after the Blasters walked off the field, protesting against a controversial free-kick.
Scores were level at 0-0 at full time, and the playoff match that would determine one of the semi-finalists, headed to extra-time.
The incident took place in the first half of extra-time after a goalless 90 minutes, and the controversial moment came when Chhetri took the free-kick even before the Blasters could finish setting up their defensive wall.
Chhetri curled the free-kick past the Kerala defenders, into the goal, in the 96th minute, while the Blasters goalkeeper was also out of position.
The players were seen arguing with the match officials, while an angry Blasters coach, Ivan Vukomanovic, asked his players to leave the field in protest.
The Bengaluru FC players, though, remained on the pitch, and once the 30 minutes of extra time was complete, the match officials, after consulting with the ISL authorities, blew the full-time whistle, that confirmed BFC advancing to the semi-finals.
“Still trying to figure out the referee whistled or marked the distance of the wall,” the Blasters tweeted on their official handle.
“If that happened to my team, I wouldn’t have walked off the pitch. i would have asked my players to try and score an equaliser,” said Bengaluru head coach Simon Grayson to broadcasters Star Sports after the match.
“We got the freekick. Sunil asked the referee if he can take it quickly and the referee said yeah. So he did!”, clarified Grayson.
Sunil Chhetri, meanwhile, reflected on a ‘strange’ ending to the match.
“In my 25-year-old career, I have never seen something like this. Not saying it in a good or bad way, just saying it is strange,” the BFC skipper said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Bengaluru FC will meet Mumbai City FC in the semi-finals.
- Kerala Blasters players forfeit ISL playoff game after controversial Chhetri goal
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