ISL 2022-23 semifinal: Sunil Chhetri header gives Bengaluru FC 1-0 win in first leg

Sunil Chhetri's goal proved to be the difference at the Mumbai Football Arena.
Sunil Chhetri's goal proved to be the difference at the Mumbai Football Arena.
Emmanual Yogini/Focus Sports/ISL

Bengaluru FC nabbed a narrow 1-0 win and secured a crucial advantage in the first leg of the Indian Super League (ISL) semi-final against Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Tuesday. Sunil Chhetri came on as a substitute and found the back of the net in the 78th minute to give the Blues a vital advantage ahead of the second leg in Bengaluru on Sunday.

As they have all season, Mumbai City were once again the team that dominated possession and created more scoring chances than their opponents. In the second minute, Greg Stewart set the pace down the right with a low cross back into the box for Bipin Singh, whose shot was blocked by Prabir Das. The defender was called into action again just ten minutes later to deny Apuia and Jorge Pereyra Diaz after a one-two.

At the other end of the pitch, Naorem Roshan's through ball went past Mourtada Fall, but Phurba Lachenpa went down and reached the ball before Roy Krishna could cause damage, and this was largely the extent of the Blues' penetration in the first half.

Just over five minutes away from the break, Stewart sent Diaz through on goal with a defence-splitting pass from the edge of the box. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was quick to get off the line to thwart the Argentine striker as the deadlock remained intact at the break.

Before the hour-mark, Simon Grayson brought on Chhetri to replace Sivasakthi Narayanan, and the veteran made the difference for his side for the second game in a row. In the final quarter of the game, moments after Das' long-range effort was palmed over the bar for a corner, the deadlock was broken. Chhetri escaped his marker and made his way towards the near post, where he headed Roshan's corner in from close range to nab a crucial goal for his side.

Bengaluru were the team that created the more potent chances after that, as the hosts tried to pour men forward. Chhetri was at the forefront again, forcing two saves from Lachenpa.

One of them was in the final minute of stoppage time, as Bengaluru FC broke way to create a 3-v-2 situation in the final third as the ball came to an unmarked Chhetri. He went for goal at the near post but Lachenpa was alert to keep Bengaluru's advantage to just one ahead of the second leg. The Blues held on eventually, extending their winning streak to ten games in the ISL. They will return to the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday for the second leg with a vital advantage.