A heroic Bengaluru FC went down 2-1 to Johor Darul Ta’zim FC after a goal in extra time by substitute Chanthuru Suppiah quelled a remarkable fight by the Blues in the AFC Champions League preliminary play-off tie at a packed Larkin Stadium, in Johor, Malaysia, on Wednesday night.
Down to a second half goal by Harris Harun who nodded home a corner on a night where Bengaluru hit the post twice, the Blues staged a resurrection in the final minute of regulation time. Armed with a corner, Eugeneson Lyngdoh swung in one that beat everyone before bulging the back of the net as a noisy Larkin slumped into silence.
Despite trailing away from home after Harun’s goal and playing in front of over 17,000 people, the Blues remained unfazed as they kept going in their search for an equalizer. And with less than 10 minutes to go, the Blues nearly found it. Skipper Sunil Chhetri’s impeccable control and lob was able to beat his marker but Marlias was on hand to tip it away.
The chances were even through the game and Bengaluru barely looked like the away team, constantly pressing making all the right noises in attack.
Westwood started with Beikhokhei Beingaichho on the right and Sean Rooney in the centre while Lalchhuanmawia got the nod at left-back as Bengaluru erased a shaky few initial minutes to get string together a rhythm they would keep till the half-time whistle.
The Blues had a few half-chances, the first of which came from a corner in the 14th minute. Picked out by a Beikho delivery, Johnson seemed to be caught wrong-footed when he was in a good place to pull the trigger. Johnson was in the thick of things again but while he got everything right, the post played spoiler to his goal-bound header in the 24th.
But Westwood’s men were dealt another early blow when, just seven minutes into extra time, Suppiah was sent through on goal. The striker placed the ball calmly past Ralte. Faced with a tough battle and with few minutes on the clock, Bengaluru began throwing the kitchen sink at Johor who did enough to soak in the attacks. Having produced a magical moment once on the night, Bengaluru did all they could to stir up an encore that wasn’t meant to be.