The match was action packed with Kerala Blasters being the more attacking of the two teams. However with a goal from Rafique in the last minute of the normal time crowned Atletico De Kolkata the Champions of first edition of Hero Indian Super League.
As with the Semi-finals the experts were apprehensive in the pre-match coverage about the players allowing the hype and the occasion to affect them. The initial few minutes were a bit scratchy with few misplaced passes from both the teams. Atletico De Kolkata was without their talisman Luis Garcia and the shape of the team from Kolkata suggested that they wanted to keep things tight at the outset.
In the early exchanges Ian Hume playing off Michael Chopra tried to link up and break the defense but a brilliant tackle from Josemi stopped them in their ranks. First moment of real action came when Nirmal Chhetri made a foul to stop the Rafi’s threatening attack and conceded a free kick, but the chance was wasted as Pody’s shot was way off the target.
With tackles flying in from both ends the goal that would light up the match was still missing. Out of nowhere David James was called in action as Arnal close range shot was stopped by the veteran goalkeeper in the thirty fifth minute. The livewire in Kerala team, Chopra ran with the ball at the defenders and earned a free kick for his team, Ian Hume stepped up and only a flying save from Edel stopped the curling free kick from the effervescent Kerala captain.
At the end of first half, the team from Kerala went in with a hope to keep the momentum in the second half while Atletico De Kolkata would surely bring on the big match players and try to unlock their rivals defense.
In the second half Kerala Blaster was out of the locker room well before Atletico De Kolkata, signaling a Statement of intent from the team. The same was witnessed as the team from southern India went after Kolkata’s goal by attempts from Pearson, Chopra and Co.
Michael Chopra received the ball from the midfield on a counterattack and he laid a delightful ball for Hume, who took one touch too many and squandered a golden opportunity. With the game opening up Kerala Blasters two leading men; Chopra and Hume were making telling runs and building momentum for Kerala Blasters.
Another brilliant move by the trio of Pearson, Chopra and Hume was shot down as no player was available for Hume’s pass in the penalty box. Any move from Atletico De Kolkata was broken down by Kerala’s defense as they didn’t allow the Kolkata team any time on the ball. With an hour down there was still a deadlock with Kerala Blasters looking the team likely to score. A penalty appeal for Atletico De Kolkata was rejected in the seventy fifth minute.
While the substitutes were made at both ends, Edel was the hero of the match thus far with being solid in guarding his goal. With ten minutes to go in normal time, one goal and the title could well be decided. Chopra came close to sending Kerala Blasters home but a brilliant save from Edel denied the striker. Into the added time as this match was heading into extra time a corner and a goal from Rafique resulted in the deciding blow. It was a fairytale for Atletico De Kolkata that they pounced on the opportunity and scored the goal in virtually the last kick of normal time.
Man of the Match
The match was Kerala Blaster’s to lose as they played 90 minutes of attacking football but the killer blow from Rafique the first ISL title headed to Atletico De Kolkata. The man of the match however was Edel for keeping Atletico De Kolkata in the match through his brilliant save of strings.