Atlético de Kolkata left it very late to clinch victory over Kerala Blasters FC and claim the inaugural Hero Indian Super League title. For large periods of the match, it was Kerala that dominated the proceedings but when it mattered the most, Kolkata struck, deep into stoppage time through substitute a Mohammed Rafique header from a corner to crown themselves champions.
It was a fast paced first period with both sides moving the ball around quickly. Kerala were the first ones off the block as they pushed forward with intent. Kolkata however looked comfortable in defence. The first chance of the match came fairly early on when Kerala’s Victor Forcada beat his defender in the box to fire a shot goalwards but it was blocked and the ball went out of play.
Ofentse Nato picked up his seventh yellow card of the season for a silly foul on Michael Chopra just outside the box in the 37th minute. Iain Hume stepped up to send his curling free-kick goal wards but the magnificent Apoula Edel Bete dived to tip it around his post.
Kerala were definitely the more dominant side in the second period as well. Mohammed Rafique was brought on for Mohammed Rafi in the 74thminute to make a difference. It was still Kerala however who continued to call the shots. Michael Chopra missed the chance of the match when he collected the ball in the box, danced past a couple of defenders and unleashed a ferocious shot from a few yards out. Edel once again came to his side’s rescue as he leapt to his left and made a miraculous save.
The moment of the match came deep into stoppage time when it looked like extra time loomed. A Jakub Podaný corner found its way into the box and substitute Rafique got on the end of it to head past David James into the near bottom corner and send the whole of Kolkata into a frenzy.
Hero of the match: Mohammed Rafique (Atlético de Kolkata)
Swift Moment of the Match: Apoula Edel Bete (Atlético de Kolkata)
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Josemi (Atlético de Kolkata)
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Ishfaq Ahmed (Kerala Blasters FC)