Bengaluru awarded ISL playoff win as Kerala walk off pitch in protest

Bengaluru awarded ISL playoff win as Kerala walk off pitch in protest

BENGALURU (Reuters) -An Indian Super League playoff descended into chaos when the Kerala Blasters walked off the pitch in protest after Bengaluru FC's Sunil Chhetri scored from a quickly-taken free kick on Friday.

With the score tied at 0-0 in the first half of extra time, Indian skipper Chhetri stood over a free kick and as the Kerala goalkeeper was setting up the wall, the Bengaluru forward quickly scooped the ball over the defence and into the net.

The referee awarded the goal and as Bengaluru's players celebrated in front of their home fans, Kerala's Serbian coach Ivan Vukomanovic stood with his arms raised before calling his team to the touchline.

Vukomanovic and his players argued with the match officials before walking off the pitch in protest and headed straight down the tunnel.

The Bengaluru team remained on the pitch and waited 20 minutes before league officials awarded the win to the home team. Simon Grayson's side will now play table toppers Mumbai City in the two-legged semi-finals.

"I don't know what happened. I'm still trying to figure it out. In 22 years of my career, I've never seen this," Chhetri was quoted as saying by ESPN.

"And I'm not saying it in a negative or positive way, but just a strange way. We are very happy to be on the happy side of it. We can't wait to go to Mumbai and play the champions."

The league later confirmed Kerala had forfeited the match.

"Are you serious @KeralaBlasters - is this how you want this game and our league and Indian football to be depicted globally?" Bengaluru owner Parth Jindal said on Twitter.

"Is this how you want all your thousands of fans to remember this team and this manager? This is a disgrace - congratulations to @bengalurufc - semis!"

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in BengaluruEditing by Toby Davis and Christian Radnedge)