Drama unfolded at Indian Super League (ISL) knockout on Friday, 3 March, in Bengaluru after Indian striker Sunil Chettri scored a controversial goal during a match between Bengaluru FC (BFC) and Kerala Blasters Football Club (KBFC) at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
In its 96th minute, the ISL playoff match was all square when a penalty was awarded to Bengaluru FC outside the penalty box of Kerala Blasters.
Sunil Chhetri’s contentious ISL goal against Kerala Blasters
Kerala Blasters’ players were getting ready to set up a wall right when Sunil Chettri just shot the ball past goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Gill.
The referee awarded the goal to Bengaluru FC and the next moment, Kerala players could be seen protesting.
— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) March 4, 2023
Without wasting time, Kerala Blasters coach Ivan Vukomanović signalled to his squad to walk off, seemingly unhappy with the referee’s decision.
All the while, commentators speculated whether the referee Crystal John, who was supposed to mark the 10-yards line, had allowed the game to continue.
In the video, John could be seen walking away from the ball, indicating that the game could go on. However, a few Kerala Blasters players were seen blocking Chettri before he hit the target.
“I got the free-kick and I saw the opening”@bengalurufc‘s match-winner @chetrisunil11 on his side’s victory in #Bengaluru#BFCKBFC #HeroISL #HeroISLPlayoffs #LetsFootball #BengaluruFC #KeralaBlasters pic.twitter.com/HkKkLCBMqE
— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) March 3, 2023
ISL match commissioner requests Kerala Blasters
The confused Kerala Blasters players headed to the dressing room while opposing the ISL referee’s decision and walked off the tunnel.
Meanwhile, the Bengaluru players were seen asking the referee to clear the air and abandon the match.
At the same time, fans from both the sides were seen getting into altercations in the stand while the police tried to separate them.
Right then, the ISL match referee could be seen headed down the tunnel to have a discussion with the Kerala Blasters coach and staff.
Confusion prevailed for around 10-15 minutes, during which the Bengaluru players were staying warmed up on the field.
Result confirmed: Kerala lose ISL match against Bengaluru
Chettri and other senior players were still speaking to the referee, probably conveying their innocence and asking him to call off the match, as per the commentators.
Meanwhile, the match commissioner returned and had a word with the referee Crystal John. The next moment John blew the final whistle and confirmed the win: Bengaluru FC- Kerala Blasters ISL playoffs, 1-0.
The thrilled Bengaluru FC players could be seen celebrating as did their supporters in the stands.
Kerala Blasters are now out of ISL 2023, while Bengaluru FC will play Mumbai City FC in the semifinals to be conducted over two legs.