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  Sports   Football  19 Dec 2016  ISL Season 3: ATK blast out Kerala for second crown

ISL Season 3: ATK blast out Kerala for second crown

THE ASIAN AGE. | ARUN GEORGE
Published : Dec 19, 2016, 2:02 am IST
Updated : Dec 19, 2016, 7:39 am IST

Jewel Raja Shaikh scored the decisive spot-kick after Cedric Hengbart’s attempt was saved by Debjit Majumder.

Atletico de Kolkata’s Henrique Fonseca Sereno (left) celebrates after scoring against Kerala Blasters in their Indian Super League-3 final in Kochi on Sunday. Kolkata won 4-3 (1-1) on penalties. (Photo: Sunoj Ninan Mathew)
 Atletico de Kolkata’s Henrique Fonseca Sereno (left) celebrates after scoring against Kerala Blasters in their Indian Super League-3 final in Kochi on Sunday. Kolkata won 4-3 (1-1) on penalties. (Photo: Sunoj Ninan Mathew)

Kochi: Atletico de Kolkata shattered Kerala Blasters’ dreams with a 4-3 (1-1) win in penalty shoot-out to bag their second Indian Super League title that also left their vibrant hosts heartbroken for the second time in their hunt for the elusive prize on Sunday.

Jewel Raja Shaikh scored the decisive spot-kick after Cedric Hengbart’s attempt was saved by Debjit Majumder.

The series had begun with Kerala’s Antonio German scoring followed by Graham Stack denying Iain Hume.

After Kervens Belfort and Sameehg Doutie had netted, Ndoye fired over and Borja Fernandez levelled 2-2. Mohammed Rafique and Javi Lara also scored until it was left for the Hengbart and Shaikh.

Kerala had managed to outlive a period of exasperation as they sought the silverware that was snatched away in the 90th minute by Kolkata two years ago, but they failed to live up to the battle of nerves that is needed in the lottery of penalties.

Mohammed Rafi’s glancing header from a Mehtab Hossain corner in the 37th minute was cancelled out by Henrique Sereno’s headed equaliser off Sameehg Doutie’s inswinging setpiece, a minute from half-time and after an array of hits and misses in the ensuing period the longest final in ISL’s brief history had emerged.

Aaron Hughes had taken the long walk back, seemingly injured, but only after urging his team mates to get the job done as he was replaced by Elhadji Ndoye. A veil of silence followed the marquee’s exit, but a minute later the galleries were bouncing in wild celebrations as local lad Rafi headed home his first goal of the season.

After a five-goal season last year, Rafi had endured a painful drought that was forgotten with a glance of his head.

The home side’s jubilation was short lived as immediately after Keegan Pereira gave way to Prabir Das, the visitors won a corner and Sereno towered above the lanky Sandesh Jhingan to draw Kolkata level.

The match had a frenetic pace to it from the first whistle and Kerala hit the visitors on the break twice inside 10 minutes, with Rafi denied by a timely block. Hume had a difficult chance to break his duck against his former side, but his attempt to surprise Graham Stack with a volley on the run from a Pereira long diagonal, misfired.

Kolkata tried to influence the flow of the game through Doutie and he fired straight at stack before Helder Postiga failed in his neat one-two with Hume.

After a series of consistent performances in recent weeks, Mehtab Hossain was unusually off-colour in Kerala midfield. He was stripped off the ball by Didika who sought a return from Doutie, but the South African’s pull back was aimed at Postiga, who scuffed it.

As the second half started, goalscorer Sereno had his head strapped after a collision and had to wait a while, shirtless, in the technical area for his blooded top to be replaced. Hengbart, now wearing the captain’s armband made a run, unimpeded while Nazon tamely delivered into Majumder’s custody. Postiga would soon show the Haitian how it was done as he fired from range and effected a low diving save from Stack.

Tags: kerala blasters, atletico de kolkata, isl season 3