Atletico de Kolkata and Kerala Blasters were the two teams that tackled all odds and came to the ISL 2016 Finals. With both teams showing some mind-boggling performances throughout the league, the 55,000 attendees at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, Kerala were in for a treat of a lifetime.
Atletico de Kolkata had the needed experience for winning the title but Kerala Blasters had the home ground advantage. Only two goals were scored in the 120-minute game, with both teams having their name on the scoresheet and ‘Penalty Shootout’ was the only way left to decide the winner.
Here is the match summary:
Kerala Blasters and Atletico de Kolkata played their best game of the season and fabricated some heart rendering opportunities at the goal. However, the opener came in the 37th minute when Mehtab Hossain delivered a long ball into the area for Rafi, the forward rose high and produced an explicit header to give Kerala Blasters the lead and the stadium erupted with a cheerful roar of 55,000 fans.
Atletico de Kolkata took only seven minutes to score an equalizer as in the nick of the first half, Doutie attempted a perfect corner and found Sereno. The Portuguese outmuscled Sandesh Jhingan and made the ball feel the warmth of Kerala’s goalpost.
At halftime whistle, the score sheet reflected a tally of 1-1 and fans expected the tally to accelerate in the second half.
However, sometimes expectations tend to take the best of us and that is what happened in the second half.
Throughout the post-break session, Atletico de Kolkata and Kerala Blasters tested each other with regressive attacks at the goalpost but the round beauty was in no mood to rest in the nets. Kolkata’s back line and Kerala’s front defense were not letting the ball to stay on their side for a long time and it was the center of the ground where much of the action took place.
Officials were forced to take the game into extra time but both teams were exhausted and the chances for a shootout were evident from the moment the extra time kicked off.
Atletico de Kolkata had the first opportunity to take the lead in the 110th minute when Ralte did his best and delivered the ball in the six-yard box but there was no one to take the effort to the finishing line.
The game was getting increasingly stretched and fans were losing interest in the Finals. When everybody was waiting for the shootout to start, Belfort came from nowhere and attempted a left-footed shot at the post in the 118th minute, however, Raja didn’t let his guards down and successfully blocked the ball from entering the nets.
Extra time ended all square with the score sheet reflecting the same score and now a shootout was needed to separate the two teams and crown the winner.
Antonio German set the tables for Kerala Blasters when he converted the first penalty into a goal. Iain Hume stepped up for Atletico de Kolkata but Graham Stack denied the ex-Kerala man and came up with all aces.
Belfort took the shootout tally to 2-0 by striking the ball to the extreme left of Debjit. It was Doutie who relieved some pressure off Kolkata by scoring the first goal for his team in the shootout.
Elhadji Ndoye took the next strike for Kerala Blasters but his shot went way above the crossbar. Borja Fernandez, Kolkata’s captain, took the next strike and leveled the score for his team.
Mohammed Rafique brought the ground to life when he scored a goal against Debjit, however, the crowd went into a lull when Atletico de Kolkata’s Javi Lara made no mistake and took the tally to 3-3 after his kick.
Cedric Hengbart (Kerala) and Jewel Raja (Kolkata) were the last strikers from their team and if both of them would have scored a goal, the shootout would have continued.
However, Hengbart’s short went straight to Debjit and Raja kept his cool and stunned the crowd with the winning goal.
And Then Atletico De Kolkata Were Crowned as ISL 2016 Winners….THE END!!
19 December 2016