Sunil Chhetri scored a thumping header late in the second half to condemn Mumbai City FC to defeat in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) semi-final first-leg tie at the Mumbai Football Arena on Tuesday.

Bengaluru FC came into this game with nine straight wins, which included a win over Mumbai City FC that ended their 18-game unbeaten streak. However, the last time Simon Grayson’s side visited Mumbai Football Arena in November, they suffered an embarrassing 4-0 defeat against MCFC.

The Blues were struggling in the bottom half of the standings midway through the season, but they’re now scripting one of the remarkable stories of the Hero ISL, courtesy of their implausible second-half resurgence. Their custodian, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, revealed the secret of their resurgence, as he believes Bengaluru FC are now being rewarded for keeping faith in their methods despite a difficult start to the season.

“Belief (is the secret behind our journey). The amount of belief that we have in our team is unwavering, even though things were going well. BFC's motto, the motto of the team, and the motto of the club are that - BFC always bounces back. Even though we have seen tough times before as well as in this season, BFC will always find a way to bounce back. We'll find a way to win, and that's what we have been doing,” Sandhu told in an interview.

The goalkeeper produced a couple of fine saves to help his side hold a first-leg advantage over the League Shield Winners and gave his reaction to the hard-fought victory over Mumbai City FC, insisting they didn't have any revenge in mind for the 0-4 reverse they had suffered at the same venue a few months back.

“We didn't have that (to prove a point) in our minds, thinking about how we had lost 4-0 over here, so we needed to come here with vengeance,” Sandhu said.

“We have already proved ourselves against every opposition that we played against. And we beat the champions at home as well. So there was nothing to prove it, it was just to keep on going with the same energy and commitment that we have shown in the last ten games. That’s the way we are. We take one game at a time,” he added.

“There was nothing particular that was okay - we need to get a result over here. Obviously knowing that Mumbai City (FC) are so good and the League Shield winners, it was always going to be difficult. Like (Sunil) Chhetri bhai said in his interview - on good days they're unbeatable and on bad days they're decent. I think obviously it was a very, very tough game, but again, the boys fought through. (They) didn't give up, and having a clean sheet over there is always (a) big bonus,” Sandhu continued.

The Indian international was his typical commanding self as the Blues flaunted an extremely professional display at the home of the Islanders. He felt communication with teammates became easier when you played with the same set of players every game.

“Honestly, it (communication with defenders) is good. The same back five and back three have been playing for quite a while now, so the communication is obviously more fluent and more comfortable. Even though fans’ coming into the stadium makes it harder for us to communicate because of all the noise. But again, in key moments, they heard whatever I had to say, and I heard whatever they had to say. So, it's a team effort, and I'm happy that we got something like that,” he said.

Grayson’s side has conceded just six goals in their last ten games. Sandhu, who kept his seventh clean sheet of the season against MCFC, talked about the importance of the clean sheet. He also praised the club’s recent defensive performances, acknowledging how his teammates are giving the opposition fewer chances and ultimately giving him fewer attempts to repel.

“One of our goals was not to concede, and we are very happy to have achieved that, knowing how good Mumbai (City FC) are, especially attacking-wise. Keeping a clean sheet was a higher priority, and we are very happy that we did that. Obviously, we have so many good defenders in front of me who commit themselves and put their bodies on the line,” Sandhu stated.