Bengaluru, March 18: The all-important winner of the Indian Super League (ISL) final between Bengaluru FC and FC Goa came from a set-piece -- something Bengaluru have excelled at right throughout the season -- and their skipper Sunil Chhetri revealed the cheeky secret that was instrumental in the team's triumph.
After no goals separated the teams at the end of normal time, Rahul Bheke (118') headed home a corner to exorcise Bengaluru's demons from last year's final as they lifted the coveted trophy for the first time.
An elated Chhetri revealed a little secret behind the team's set-piece preparations for each match.
"We worked really hard with coach Carles (Cuadrat). We've only conceded one goal from set-pieces and there're charts in the bathroom before we go into each match. We've to stand there for 20 minutes and look at it, because every free kick, every corner has a different sign. Going forward and defensively we've been very strong from set-pieces and it's not by chance that we've won the game through a set-piece," Chhetri was quoted as saying by the ISL website.
After losing out in the 2017-18 final at their home ground in Sree Kanteerava Stadium to Chennaiyin FC, Bengaluru redeemed themselves in this season's grand finale after beating Goa at the Mumbai Football Arena.
Despite the abundance of attacking players on show, it was the defenders that proved their mettle in what proved to be a closely-fought affair and Chhetri was quick to acknowledge that as well.
"We made sure that the attacking players come back and defend. And we had to do it against a team like Goa. That was the message from the coach - always try to attack but as soon as we lose the ball, we come back to defend and make sure that we had the numbers. It was so not that easy, but I am really glad we did it," Chhetri added.
Talking about the side's defensive performance, Cuadrat said, "It was a risky decision to play with that defence because Albert Serran had been central for us. He has done a lot for us. So, the rest of the guys have been learning a lot from him.
"I have to be very proud of the Indian players especially Nishu Kumar, Rahul Bheke and Harmanjot Khabra. We decided to go for an offensive game. We have to be very happy."
Cuadrat shed some light on the faith the players had put in him since the start of the season, which he claimed, was a huge factor behind their success.
"I think that we have a deal with the players. It was clear from the first moment. I'm the coach of Bengaluru because they have the feeling that I can do things in the right way. So, when Albert Roca decided not to work because of the family issue, the players said that Carles can do the job. From the first day, I've been demanding a lot from them," he added.
Just as it looked the match was headed for a penalty shootout, the big goal finally came.
Bheke leapt high to meet Delgado Dimas' corner and sent a looping header towards the goal, much to the joy of the passionate BFC fans, who have been a source of strength for the team, right throughout their campaign.
(Source: ISL Media)