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Rediff.com  » Sports » Atletico Kolkata down Kerala Blasters in penalties to win 2nd ISL title

Atletico Kolkata down Kerala Blasters in penalties to win 2nd ISL title

December 18, 2016 23:02 IST

Jewel Raja celebrates on scoring the winning penalty to help Atletico de Kolkata win their second ISL title on Sunday

IMAGE: Jewel Raja celebrates on scoring the winning penalty to help Atletico de Kolkata win their second ISL title on Sunday. Photograph: ISL/Twitter

Atletico de Kolkata were crowned Indian Super League champions for the second time in three years after they edged out Kerala Blasters 4-3 in a nerve-wracking penalty shootout after both sides were locked 1-1 in regulation time in Kochi on Sunday.

India international Jewel Raja successfully converted the fifth penalty as the 55,000 capacity crowd at the Nehru Stadium were stunned into silence.

In that 2014 final, ATK had beaten Kerala Blasters 1-0 in Mumbai.

It was the first penalty shootout in final of the three-season old cash-rich league.

Besides Jewel Raja, Sameehg Doutie, Borja Fernandez and Javier Lara found the target in the shootout while Iain Hume's shot was blocked by Kerala goalkeeper Graham Stack.

For Kerala, who came into the match after winning six times on the trot before this match, Antonio German, Kervens Belfort and Mohammed Rafique scored while Elhadji Ndoye and Cedric Hengbart failed to find the target.

ATK's second highest goal-scorer of the tournament Hume was quiet for most part of the match as he was not given space by Kerala defenders.

Kolkata’s Helder Postiga was out of sorts and substituted in the 68th minute. Kerala forwards CK Vineeth and Duckens Nazon also failed to impress after a top-class performance till this summit showdown.

There were no surprises in the starting eleven of both the teams with ATK bringing in marquee player Postiga, Hume and Sameehg Doutie after 'resting' them in the second-leg semi-finals against Mumbai City FC.

Kerala, on the other hand, left out Sandip Nandy in favour of former Arsenal goalkeeper Graham Stack.

Kerala started off with a series of attacks but without any serious threat at the ATK goal. Kerala Blasters' India striker CK Vineeth sent a fine pass from the flanks in the second minute but none of his team-mates were in position to convert.

In the 10th minute, Kerala's Kervens Belfort played Mohammed Rafi through inside the box and the former India forward looked to finish it with a powerful shot but Jose Arroyo was just on time to block it.

As the first half wore on, ATK began to threaten the goal and Postiga had two back-to-back chances but the Portuguese striker were not up to the mark at both occasions.

He first shot wide off his left foot from inside the Kerala box in the 14th minute after being fed by Hume in a one-touch pass. Postiga had another go at the Kerala goal in the 21st minute but his low left-footer from outside the box also missed the target.

ATK was dominating the match for a while and Kerala got a blow also with marquee player and Irish international defender Aaron Hughes suffered an injury and relaced by Elhadji Ndoye in the 35th minute.

But the departure their defensive pivot did not impact Kerala immediately and it was the home side who took the lead two minutes later with Mohamed Rafi heading in a Mehtab Hossain, and the ful-to-the-brim crowd went wild in celebration.

Their celebration did not last long though with ATK scoring the equaliser through Henrique Sereno seven minutes later and just a minute before half time whistle.

Not a single shot at the goal came midway into the second half from both sides as it was an end-to-end action. ATK coach Jose Molina decided to replace out-of-sorts Postiga with Javier Lara in the 68th minute.

Kerala made a double substitution in the 77th minute with Antonio German and Mohammed Rafique coming in for Duckens Nazon and Rafi but nothing much changed in hid side's fortunes.

The home side had two close shaves towards the end of the regulation time. ATK midfielder Lalrindika Ralte had an attempt on goal with a low shot drilled at the far post in the 82nd minute and Kerala goakeeper Graham Stack dived to the full to his left but could not get a hand as the shot went wide.

In the 90th minute, Ralte again sent a low cross across the face of the Kerala goal, hoping to be met by his team mates but Cedric Hengbart, Kerala's defensive wall, slid and intercepted it for a corner.

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