Hero ISL final: Revisiting ATK Mohun Bagan versus Bengaluru FC clashes this season
The final of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season is fast approaching and both teams competing in the final, Bengaluru FC and ATK Mohun Bagan, would look to grab the silverware on offer to conclude the season on a high.
As both teams eye victory in the final on Saturday they would be taking a close look at the two matches against each other this season to analyse and find loopholes in the opponent's strategies.
After a disappointing start to the league stage, the Blues suffered their fifth defeat of the season when they welcomed ATK Mohun Bagan at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. However, a season-turning run since the new year saw Simon Grayson's men take their revenge when they travelled to the Mariners' backyard in the second leg of fixtures.
Both teams managed a victory each in two league stage matches played in different scenarios and on the back of different run of forms. After playing the majority of the league stage at different ends of the points table, both teams peaked at the right time to book their place in Saturday's showpiece.
Here we take a close look at the two clashes between both teams in the league stage this season:
December 3, 2022, Matchweek 9: Bengaluru FC 0-1 ATK Mohun Bagan
Bengaluru FC Playing XI: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK), Prabir Das, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Sandesh Jhingan, Namgyal Bhutia, Roshan Naorem, Danish Farooq, Javier Hernandez, Suresh Wangjam, Roy Krishna and Sunil Chhetri (C).
ATK Mohun Bagan Playing XI: Vishal Kaith (GK), Asish Rai, Pritam Kotal(C), Brendan Hamill, Subhasish Bose, Carl McHugh, Hugo Boumous, Lenny Rodrigues, Ashique Kuruniyan, Liston Colaco and Dimitri Petratos.
The Blues hosted ATK Mohun Bagan in Matchweek 9 after their first victory in the six matches, which came against FC Goa in the previous match. The first big chance of the match fell to the home side when Hernandez pounced on the loose ball in the penalty box but struck it right at ATKMB goalkeeper Kaith. Throughout the first half, both teams had a fair share of possession but failed to break the deadlock as the first half ended goalless.
The second half was played at a faster pace compared to the first one and the home side gained strength with a flurry of attacks but it was Petratos who scored an absolute screamer after Ashique had won the ball in the midfield in the 66th minute. Krishna came close to bagging the equaliser in the next minute, but missed the target. Sivasakthi Narayanan looked to introduce himself in the best possible manner when the youngster rattled the crossbar soon after coming in place of right-back Das as Bengaluru FC chased on the equaliser.
The Blues pushed hard for an equaliser in the final few minutes but ATK Mohun Bagan defended extremely well to close out a 1-0 win, taking all three points.
February 5th, Matchweek 18: ATK Mohun Bagan 1-2 Bengaluru FC
ATK Mohun Bagan Playing XI: Vishal Kaith (GK), Subhasish Bose, Pritam Kotal (C), Brendan Hamill Asish Rai, Glan Martins, Carl McHugh, Federico Gallego, Manvir Singh, Dimitri Petratos and Liston Colaco.
Bengaluru FC Playing XI: Gurpreet Sandhu (GK/C), Roshan Naorem, Sandesh Jhingan, Alan Costa, Prabir Das, Parag Shrivas, Rohit Kumar, Suresh Wangjam, Javier Hernandez, Roy Krishna and Siva Narayanan.
Times had changed for the two teams since the last meeting between in December, Bengaluru FC were on a four-match winning run which saw them jump places in the league table. The fixture had extra spice to it due to the timing of the clash, as the race for the top six had heated up wuth both these two teams chasing a playoff berth.
The first half was very eventful for both sides with chances at regular intervals but the goalkeepers stood strong. The Mariners went close to taking the lead with a couple of chances falling to right-back Rai, but Sandhu was equal to every threat posed by the home team. Sivasakthi failed to keep Krishna's through ball under control as Kaith latched onto the loose ball, denying the golden opportunity for the away team to take the lead. The score was 0-0 as both teams went into half-time after numerous goalscoring opportunities had gone begging.
After a goalless first half, both teams piled on the pressure in search of the opening goal and it was in the 78th minute when a delightful cross from Roshan was smashed into the goal by Hernandez from the edge of the box to give the visitors a lead. Bengaluru FC bagged the second goal of the night in the 90th minute when Kaith failed to collect Pablo Perez's cross from the right flank and Krishna was in the right position to tap in the winner for the Blues as they took 2-0 lead with only added time to play.
Petratos scored in the 90th minute for ATK Mohun Bagan, but it wasn't enough as the Blues defended their lead brilliantly with only minutes left to play, securing the three points away from home, and registering their fifth victory on the trot.