The final of this year’s Indian Super League lived up to its billing as Atletico de Kolkata edged out Kerela Blasters in the penalty shootout in a nail-biting final to win their second title in three years.
Looking to avenge their loss in the final of the inaugural season, Kerela Blasters started brightly and took the lead in the 37th minute when Mohammed Rafi nodded home a corner. However, the home team could not maintain their lead for long as Kolkata equalised through Henrique Sereno just before the half time. Both the teams failed to create any clear-cut chances in the second half and failed to find the winner. The story remained same in the extra time and it was left to the penalty shootouts to decide the champion of the season.
Antonio German set the tone for Kerela as he sent Kolkata goalie the wrong way with the first kick. Iain Hume stepped up first for the 2014 champions but saw his shot saved by Graham Stack. Belfort followed it up with a calm kick to double Kerela’s tally. Sameehg Doutie relieved some pressure off his team by converting the next kick and Sourav Ganguly’s team was right back in the game when Elhadji Ndoye put the next penalty wide. Borja Fernandez made no mistake and put Kolkata level. Mohammad Rafique found the back of the net with the next kick before Javi Lara also scored from the spot. However, Kerela’s standout player of this season Cedric Hengbart kicked the ball right down the middle and saw it saved by Debjit with his legs. Jewel Raja stepped up for the final kick and made no mistake as he scored to help Kolkata reclaim the trophy.
Here is how Twitter reacted to the match.
— ATK (@ATKFC) December 18, 2016
Congratulations Kolkata. But I feel for Kerala. You fought hard Blasters. Way to go. #KERvATK
— Dhaval Mehta (@dhaval_km) December 18, 2016
— Mayanti Langer Binny (@MayantiLanger_B) December 18, 2016
— Nithy_tweeps (@nithyCbemass) December 18, 2016
— Somsubhra Das (@somsubhrad) December 18, 2016
— Dev (@idevadhikari) December 18, 2016
— Paresh Mestri (@pareshmestri) December 18, 2016
@KeralaBlasters Penalties took us to the Final..Themselves took the Cup away..Its ok brothers..Our wet eyes make us love U further more..
— Unni Denny (@UnniDenny) December 18, 2016
— Prathvi S Shetty (@ShettyPrathvi) December 18, 2016
— Debasis Sen (@debasissen) December 18, 2016
— Vishnu Prakash☮️ (@being_vishnu) December 18, 2016
Cricket is a word, football is an emotion.#KERvATK
— aloshy (@comradealoshy) December 18, 2016
— FootballWalla (@vivekmohan81) December 18, 2016
— नीतीश कुमार भारतीय (@nitish_love_MSD) December 18, 2016