Kerala Blasters player-coach David James admitted that his side rode their luck in the Hero Indian Super League semi-finals.
The Blasters booked their spot in the inaugural ISL final by edging Chennaiyin FC 4-3 on aggregate after a nervy second leg which the home side won 3-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai.
Following their 3-0 home win on Saturday, ten-man Kerala found themselves in a precarious position when former Manchester United and Arsenal defender Mikael Silvestre opened the scoring for Chennai in the 42nd minute after Scottish defender James McAllister had been sent off 14 minutes earlier.
An own-goal from Sandesh Jhingan just under 15 minutes from time got the Kerala blood pressure rising before the Blasters again conceded when Jeje Lalpekhlua equalised in the 90th minute, sending the match into extra-time.
Chennai's player-coach Marco Materazzi, who had missed a penalty re-take five minutes into the second half, was sent off in the 104th minute for a second bookable offence which leveled the playing field as both sides were now reduced to ten men.
That allowed Stephen Pearson the opportunity to come up with a dramatic 117th-minute winner, two minutes before Chennai's Bojan Dordic also saw red.
After the match, James - who did not play - spoke of the element of luck his team had in what was an enthralling and historic semi-final tie.
"As an avid football fan I think any team that wins a trophy has to have an element of luck," the former England international said.
"But I wouldn't say that we were lucky; obviously, the (McAllister) sending off was lucky for Chennai, but our team fought really hard and once again, we have injuries going into the final; so that's going to be a concern."
James added that he wasn't completely content with the performance of his side but admitted to enjoying the thrill of being the first team into the ISL final where he now awaits the winner of Wednesday's clash between FC Goa and Atletico de Kolkata following a scoreless first leg.
"I was not happy, I thought we could win the game," he added.
"I told the team that if we do the same thing we did last time, we would win the game. The sending off (of James McAllister) had a massive impact on how the game was going to go, (Bernard) Mendy was a threat, (Marco) Materazzi was also dangerous because of his size.
"I don't care how it happened, we're in the final and I'm the happiest manager in football at the moment."
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