Playing their first season in the Second Division, Mumbai-based Atlanta FC needed only a draw at the Minerva Academy Ground in Chandigarh to claim the title. However, Delhi FC had other plans as they delivered an outstanding performance.
Delhi FC’s Bali Gagandeep scored twice, while Vanlalhriatzuala added a superb strike to seal victory and promotion for his side. The capital side had already come close to promotion in the final round of I-League qualifying in 2021 but fell short, finishing in third place.
The breakthrough for Delhi FC came in the 34th minute when captain Balwant Singh put Fahad Temuri on the left wing, who then provided a precise cross for Bali Gagandeep to calmly insert the ball into the net.
Atlanta FC responded vigorously in the second half and equalized in the 48th minute with a similar team goal. However, Delhi FC quickly regained their lead as Gagandeep rose higher to take the lead from a Bhupinder Singh corner.
Despite Atlanta FC’s attempts to equalize and spoil the hosts’ party, they struggled to create meaningful chances in the final third. With just two minutes left to play, Vanlalhriatzuala sealed victory for Delhi FC with an extraordinary long shot that curled perfectly into the top corner to secure first place in the standings.
In another game, FC Bangalore United beat United SC 1-0 in a contest that had no impact on the final standings. Irfan Yadwad scored the game’s only goal, taking his tally for the season to 13 goals, making him the league’s top scorer.
Atlanta FC and FC Bengaluru United finished third and fourth respectively with six points each, while United SC finished bottom of the table with three points.
Delhi FC’s remarkable achievement in their first season in the Second Division shows their potential and sets the stage for an exciting journey into the I-League.
(With PTI entries)