Eight teams, 60 matches, more than two months of football has finally come to an end as Atletico De Kolkata were crowned the champions of this iteration of Indian Super League(ISL). A packed Jawaharlal Nehru stadium saw the rematch of 2014’s ISL finals in which Atletico De Kolkata(ATK) came out on top. ATK boasted an unbeaten streak against Kerala Blasters before coming into the match but Kerala were the favourites with such fantastic support cheering them on. The famous “Yellow Wall” of India. Emotions were on the high as it was a special game for both Iain Hume & Mohammad Rafique. Both playing their second final in 3 years but now in different colours. A perfect finale to an exciting campaign.
Both the teams didn’t have the best of starts to the season. ATK were leaking goals, whereas Kerala Blasters were struggling to find the back of the net. But it was the knockout stages where both the teams showed their mettle as they overpowered Mumbai City & Delhi Dynamos. Kolkata beat Mumbai 3-2 in regular time, whereas Kerala took Delhi to the penalties and beat them 3-0.
It was always going to be a tricky encounter. ATK hoping to be the winners for the second time, Kerala giving their all to keep that from happening. It was Kolkata who turned on the style as Hume & Postiga were combining brilliantly in the final third, but the wayward finishing let them down. 37 minutes down the line & it was Kerala Blasters who struck first.From the corner, Mehtab Hossain’s flighted ball fell into the box and Rafi’s cracking header left Graham Stack helpless. But the party didn’t last long as Kolkata equalised 6 minutes later. This too from a corner, as Doutie floated the ball in & Sereno met it despite Jhinghan’s pressure. Atletico de Kolkata started the second half with some intensity but quickly settled into a more cautious approach as Kerala retaliated. Despite stringing some good passes together, both the teams struggled to move past the midfield area. The game became pretty uneventful as we approached the end second half of extra time. Penalties to settle the tie.
German for KB: Scored
Hume for ATK: Missed
Kervens Belfort for KB: Scored
Sameehg Doutie for ATK: Scored
El Hadki Ndoye for KB: Missed
Borja for ATK: Scored
Rafique for KB: Scored (huh!)
Javi Lara for ATK: Scored
Hengbart for KB: MISSED
Jewel Raja took the decisive penalty & scored.
A night to rejoice for ATK supporters, heartbreak for the Keralites. To Come so close for the second time & suffer the same fate. But the crowd has been spectacular, to say the least. Passionate is an understatement for these awesome supporters who made this tournament even more colourful. Keep the Yellow flag flying high, guys.