The 2016 Indian Super League headed for a sparkling showdown when Atletico De Kolkata encountered Kerala Blasters in order to reconquer the silverware whom the Kolkata based franchise defeated in the inaugural campaign to become the first ever ISL champion.
However, the Yellow Brigade were energetic and motivated in front of their home crowd and eyeing for a revenge to win the title that they let go from their grasp a couple of years ago. But it was so near yet so far for the Blasters once again as they lost the game in tie-breaker as the game failed to gain any conclusion after 120 minutes.
Steve Coppell’s men drew the first blood when former Atletico De Kolkata forward Mohammed Rafi headed home from Mehtab Hossain’s cross (37′). Kolkata’s right-back Pritam Kotal was at fault while conceding the corner as he failed to clear the ball for a throw or allow it for a goal-kick. Nevertheless, the Bengal Tiger’s did not take too much time to strike back when former Porto and Portuguese international defender Henrique Sereno scored with a thunderous header from Doutie’s corner at around 44th minute mark. An average and balanced half ended in 1-1.
Second half was less creative than the first and both the teams failed to create any major opportunities to alter the scoreline. Key players like Hume, Borja, Doutie were largely off-colored for Kolkata, whereas, Belfort, though impressive, failed to create anything spectacular for the Blasters. Sereno, the goalscorer for the Bengal Tigers, was outstanding throughout 90 minutes as he led his backline for the entire game with a head injury. Having failed to get any conclusion, the game extended into extra time.
The extra time was indifferent and both the teams were cautious defensively to avoid any late scare. Sereno, who was rightly awarded the man of the match, had to leave the field early in the first half of extra time due to injury. However, the substitute Nato managed to keep things in control and the game headed for a tie-breaker.
Kerala got an advantage when Antonio German scored from the first kick and Iain Hume failed to make things level as Graham Stack pulled up a decent save. But it was substitute Ndoye whose kick flown over the bar and Borja scored to make things level after three kicks each. Kerala’s fifth and the final kick before sudden death was taken by defender Cedric Hengbart who was splendid throughout the game. Unfortunately he failed to score past Debjit as he made an outstanding save with his trailing legs. Sk. Jewel Raja, who probably played the best game of his career, had to score now to avoid a sudden death and win it for ATK. However, he kept his head cool and slotted the ball into the net. The game ended 3-4 in tie-breaker and the Bengal Tigers reconquered the title defeating the Blasters once more.
Kerala Blasters vs Atletico De Kolkata Line-ups:
Kerala Blasters: Graham Stack, Sandesh Jhingan, Cedric Hengbart, Aaron Hughes (Ouzin Ndoye 34′), Ishfaq Ahmed, Mehtab Hossain, Azrack Mahamat, CK Vineeth, Mohammed Rafi (Mohammed Rafique 77′), Kervens Belfort, Duckens Nazon (Antonio German 77′).
Atletico De Kolkata: Debjit Majumder, Pritam Kotal, Tiri, Henrique Sereno ( ofentse Nato 95′), Keegan Pereira (Prabir Das 42′), Borja Fernandez, Jewel Raja, Iain Hume, Sameehg Doutie, Lalrindika Ralte, Helder Postiga (Javi Lara 67′).
Kerala Blasters vs Atletico De Kolkata Highlights:
— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) December 18, 2016
Kerala Blasters vs Atletico De Kolkata Match Stats:
|Shots (On Target)||6(3)||11(3)|
|Fouls conceded (Bookings)||21(2)||12(1)|