Super Cup flashback: When Chhetri and Miku led Bengaluru FC to glory in 2018
It has been four years since we have gotten to enjoy the jaw-dropping clashes in the Hero Super Cup. With the new edition of the knockout competition only a few days away, let's reminise some most memorable moments from the Hero Super Cup 2018 to get us warmed up for the tournament ahead.
The inaugural edition of the tournament proved to be a roller-coaster as teams from the Hero I-League and Hero Indian Super League (ISL) went neck-to-neck for 36 days from March 15 to April 20, 2018, to decide the winner. The entire tournament was held at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
Bengaluru FC beat East Bengal FC 4-1 in the final to lift the first-ever Hero Super Cup and maintained their run of lifting a trophy every season, up until then.
How did the tournament pan out?
The top six teams from both the Hero I-League and Hero ISL secured automatic qualification for the tournament while the bottom four sides of both leagues battled out in the qualifiers. Mumbai City FC, ATK FC, Churchill Brothers, and Gokulam Kerala won their respective qualifiers and earned a spot in the main round. A total of 16 teams participated in the main round.
As the tournament progressed, big names of Indian football faltered one by one and saw their run coming to an end.
Chennaiyin FC, Mumbai City FC, Minerva Punjab FC, ATK FC, Churchill Brothers, FC Pune City, Gokulam Kerala, and Kerala Blasters FC were sent home in the Round of 16 matches. During the quarter-finals, Aizawl FC, Jamshedpur FC, Shillong Lajong, and NEROCA FC could not save themselves as two teams from each league made it to the final four. East Bengal FC saw off FC Goa 1-0 in the first semi-final while the other I-League side from Kolkata, Mohun Bagan went down 4-2 to Bengaluru FC.
The Blues reiterated their dominance over the Kolkata-based clubs in the tournament as they registered an emphatic 4-1 win over 10-man East Bengal FC in the final and clinched the inaugural Hero Super Cup trophy.
Now let’s take a look at some of the best moments and statistics from the Hero Super Cup 2018.
UNSTOPPABLE! ⚡️ The skipper put three past NEROCA FC, when the Blues faced them in the 2018 #HeroSuperCup quarterfinal. 🔥#WeAreBFC #NothingLikeIt pic.twitter.com/NDRhcMW1wf— Bengaluru FC (@bengalurufc) April 4, 2023
The biggest shocks
The biggest upset of the Hero Super Cup 2018 happened in the Round of 16 when Hero ISL Champions Chennaiyin FC were knocked out by the fifth-placed Hero I-League side Aizawl FC. The Marina Machans made an early exit from the tournament after Mohammad Rafi missed from the spot in the penalty shootout. They were beaten 5-3 on penalties as the scoreline was tied at 2-2 at the end of extra time.
The other shock was the elimination of FC Pune City at the hands of Shillong Lajong in the Round of 16. The Hero I-League side registered a dramatic 3-2 win over the fourth-placed FC Pune City, thanks to a stoppage-time winner by Samuel Lalmuanpuia.
Mohun Bagan vs Bengaluru FC
Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC faced off in the second semi-final to set up a final clash with East Bengal. The Mariners went ahead in the game through Dipanda Dicka’s goal in the 42nd minute as the first half ended 1-0 in favor of the Kolkata giants. The Blues discovered more problems in the second half when Nishu Kumar was shown a direct red card. But despite going down to 10 men, Bengaluru FC showed extreme courage and completed a stunning comeback to seal a 4-2 win over Mohun Bagan. Miku (62’, 65’, and 89’) netted a remarkable hat-trick while Chettri (90’) extended the lead further for the Blues. Dicka scored a consolation goal right at the end.
The Grand Finale
The field was set. Players were motivated. Fans flocked in huge numbers. The 2018 Hero Super Cup Final – East Bengal FC vs Bengaluru FC and it couldn’t get bigger than this!
Ansumana Kromah opened the scoring for the Red and Gold Brigade in the 28th minute but they couldn’t hold on to their lead for long as Rahul Bheke scored the equaliser 11 minutes later. East Bengal FC right-back Samad Ali Mallick put his team into further trouble after receiving the marching order for a silly challenge on Subhasish Bose right at the stroke of half-time.
The Khalid Jamil-coached side started the second half strongly and began to put the pressure back on Bengaluru FC. Maintaining the pressure, Kromah scored his second goal of the night, only for it to be ruled out for offside. The Blues took advantage of the extra man and skipper-Chettri put them ahead in the 69th minute. Two minutes later, Miku extended the lead further and Chhetri wrapped up the game in the first minute of stoppage time to seal a 4-1 victory.
The dominance of Bengaluru FC
The Blues came into the tournament on the back of a defeat in the Hero ISL final against Chennaiyin FC, but Miku and Chhetri's brilliance meant that they couldn't be kept away from silverware for too long.