Today will be a clash of titans when two-time finalists Kerala Blasters face inaugural champions Atletico de Kolkata in the 2016 Indian Super League (ISL) final in Kochi today.
Catch live football score of Kerala Blasters vs Atletico de Kolkata ISL 2016 final here. (LIVE SCORES and UPDATES).
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is completely full tonight and the huge support can play a major role in Kerala Blasters’ performance against Atletico de Kolkata.
The ISL 2016 final between Kerala Blasters FC and Atletico de Kolkata will be a repeat of their ISL 2014 final clash where Atletico de Kolkata emerged victorious thanks to a late goal from striker Mohammed Rafique.
ATK, on the other hand, would be looking to become the first side to lift the title for the second time after the inaugural edition crown. They have already become the most successful side in the fledging ISL having made it to the last-four in all the three editions and it will be their second final appearance.
It’s Atletico de Kolkata who have kicked off and the yellow sea with just the tinge of red and white in the corner explodes.
Brilliant play by the Kolkata front two in start, Postiga and Hume, some lovely one-touch play, but the ball falls to the Portuguese at the edge of the box, and his left-footed shot goes just wide.
Helder Postiga has had three very good chances and missed all three because of rather poor finishing. The crowd roars to life every time Kerala have the ball.
Rafique provided a lovely lofted ball in an empty pocket of the box that was right in the middle. Strangely enough, no Kerala player moved a muscle to get to it and the keeper came forward to collect it as CK Vineeth ran in from the right and took the shot from outside the box. It went straight to the goalkeeper. Kerala would love more of that from Vineeth.
GOAL: Kerala Blasters 1-0 Atletico de Kolkata (Rafi 37′)
Kerala Blasters’ counter attack in full display here. Mehtab Hossain sent a ball into the box and Rafi’s header is spot on and Graham Stack couldn’t stop the ball which rafi headed into the box. The roof of the stadium is lifted as Kerala Blasters players celebrate the goal.
The scoreline tells the story that the two sides have gone at each other with sticks and stones and chances have been abundant on both sides. The crowd exploded when Rafi managed to head the ball in and the little red and white corner jumped Sereno did the same. It might not be the most beautiful footballing games, but it has everything a final needs. Goals, passion, tackles and a stadium full of very passionate fans. I definitely got it wrong with my prediction for the game, and I expect a much more open second half of football.
Both teams has lost a player to injury, and fatigue might play a role in the final outcome of the game. Don’t forget Kerala Blasters have had 120 minutes of football during mid-week in the energy sapping atmosphere of Delhi.
Kervens Belfort chased down a long ball and managed to keep it in. He had acres of space in front of him and managed to get into the box. His cross was far away from any Kerala player and goes out safely for a goalkick.
Since CK Vineeth may have caused some damage unknowingly to ATK’s goalscorer Sereno. He goes down on the ground clutching his forehead. Some blood scene on his hands as he takes them off his forehead. He is bandaged, has a sip off the water bottle and goes outside for changing his bloodied shirt.
ATK are temporarily down to 10-men as Sereno gets a new shirt and Kerala are trying to make the most out of it. Meanwhile, ATK seems to be struggling to find a shirt and Sereno stands half naked by the touchline as ATK find a shirt for Sereno and he rushes straight into the mix to defend a free kick. It turns out to be one that doesn’t need too much defending.
In 61min, Helder Postiga strides forward into space from midfield and works in a shot. He was still a fair distance away from goal, managed to get some dip on the ball. Keeper dives to make the save.
A slew of changes for both sides in these eight minutes as Rafique and German come out for Kerala Blasters in addition to ATK changing Postiga for Lara. But chances have come down and both sides are unable to go beyond the midfield area.
It is difficult to find a winner with this one. Both sides seem to have exchanged their styles of play. It is now Kerala Blasters who are dominating possession and ATK who are threatening on the counter. Borja makes another effort from long range. It is a few feet off target.
Full Time!! Kerala Blasters 1-1 Atletico de Kolkata, match goes into extra time
Five minutes were added on and that wasn’t enough to decide the tie. Atletico de Kolkata had a few good chances but couldn’t find a way through. Ishfaq Ahmed has struggled with a cramp on his calf muscles and is being treated, Sereno’s bandage needs be reworked, both sides are putting balms on their wounds as they get ready for another half an hour of football. Both teams are tied and off we go to extra time. This is the second time in four days that Kerala Blasters are playing extra-time.
A Freekick for Kerala Blasters at a very very promising position, Mehtab Hossain takes it, and he hits the first man. That will be extremely frustrating for the Kerala Blasters players whereas Javi Lara swung in a free kick that ended up on top of the goalpost. That marks the end of the first period of extra time. The attacks are starting to get slower for both sides and players are cramping up more often.
It seems we will need penalties to decide this one. Players don’t have any energy left and are practically walking around the pitch. Tackles are getting more and more tired and fouls are getting more frequent. Javi Lara stands over a free kick from a promising range. It’s blocked by Rafique.
HT: That’s it for the first half of extra time. Players have literally dropped wherever they were standing. I highly doubt there’s a winner in this one in normal time, but then I have been proved wrong before.
Atletico de Kolkata have started the second half well, they have kept the ball well, and that’s the way to go in the extra time. Atletico de Kolkata threatened the goalpost twice and were turned away all three times. The first was when Iain Hume took a shot after turning on the spot. It crashed against a defender and went to the right. A dangerous cross came in and Ishfaq Ahmed did well to clear it away.
There is not much to report in this period as four minutes of normal time is left in the ISL 2016 final. The ball is stating in the midfield and every shot seems to be straight into the hands of the two keepers. Only a matter of time before they are tested to the limit in the penalty shootout.
Kervens Belfort turned wonderfully and managed to sprint past a defender to get into the box. His shot was blocked down by Jewel Raja.
Extra time ends, Kerala Blasters 1-1 Atletico de Kolkata:Penalty shootouts time
Penalty for Kerala Blasters being taken by German: Antonio German scores
Penalty for Atletico de Kolkata being taken by Iain Hume: Graham Stack saves for Kerala Blasters to send everyone to delirium.
Penalty for Kerala Blasters being taken by Belfort: Belfort KBFC 2-0
Penalty for Atletico de Kolkata being taken by Doutie: And he scores, Kolkata are on the board
Penalty for Kerala Blasters being taken by Ndoye: He misses! Ndoye shoots over
Penalty for Atletico de Kolkata being taken by Borja Fernandez: He scores! We’re level! 2-2
Penalty for Kerala Blasters being taken by Rafique: He scores! 3-2 Kerala Blasters.
Penalty for Atletico de Kolkata being taken by Javi Lara: He scores! 3-3, going down to the wire.
Penalty for Kerala Blasters being taken by Hengbart: He saves it.
Ewel Raja takes the last penalty, and he scores! Atletico de KOLKATA are CHAMPIONS.
Atletico de Kolkata are champions of Indian Super League for the second time in three years.
That is heartbreak for Kerala Blasters who played brilliantly in regulation time, and throughout the tournament. They have hands down the best fans in the nation.
#Hero of the match: Sereno