Atletico de Kolkata won the 2016 edition of the Indian Super League after beating Kerala Blasters 4-3 in a penalty shootout after the two teams were locked 1-1 after extra-time in Kochi on Sunday.
ISL’s top goalscorer, Iain Hume missed from the spot in his first kick and from being 0-2 down, ATK converted each of their last four kicks. For the Blasters, Elhadji Ndoye shot his attempt over the bar and Cedric Hengbart’s attempt was saved by ATK keeper Debjit Majumder’s off his legs. Veteran midfielder Jewel Raja netted the winner.
The Blasters took the lead in the first half through striker Mohammed Rafi. Just before the interval, ATK defender Henrique Sereno brought his team back in the contest with a header.
Despite the two teams showing good intensity in the first half, there was little threat for the two goalkeepers: Chances were largely reduced to long-range attempts, none of which came close to opening the deadlock.
Disaster struck in the Blasters ranks as skipper Aaron Hughes had to be substituted with 10 minutes left for the half-time whistle. Against the run of play, the home side went into the lead with Rafi showing his prolific heading prowess for the first time this season. The decibel levels during the goal might have shaken the roofs of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
ATK’s equaliser came a minute left for the half-time whistle, as Hereno met Sameehg Doutie’s beautifully floated cross with his head.
Neither team took chances in attack in the second half. For all their possession, ATK offered little threat in the final third. Helder Postiga had a quiet evening and was taken off by Jose Molina in the second half.
The Blasters played on the counter and banked heavily on the power of Duckens Nazon on the left. ATK made a late surge in regulation time and Steve Coppell’s side needed Hengbart to make a fine last ditch save to prevent Iain Hume from getting to the end of a cross from the left. Lalrindika Ralte had also come close, missing the far post with his short by just a few inches.
The energy-sapped players struggled in extra-time. Both defences refused to budge and it all boiled down to penalties as Atletico de Kolkata had the final laugh.
Kerala Blasters 1 (Mohammed Rafi) lose to Atletico de Kolkata 1 (Henrique Sereno) 1 via penalties 4-3