Hyderabad FC win maiden ISL title, beat Kerala Blasters via penalty shoot-out
Goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani made three stunning saves as Hyderabad FC clinched their maiden Indian Super League title after defeating Kerala Blasters in penalty shoot-out in the summit clash in Margao on Sunday (March 20). Hyderabad beat Kerala 3-1 in the shoot-out after the match ended 1-1 in the regulation and extra time.
For Hyderabad, Joao Victor, Khassa Camara and Halicharan Narzary scored while only Ayush Adhikari found the target in the shoot-out as Kerala suffered heart-break for the third time in the finals. It was Kattimani’s day as his heroics helped Kerala prevailed in the shoot-out. He saved the spot kicks from Mark Leskovic, Nishu Kumar and Jeakson Singh.
As soon as Narzary’s spot kick sent Kerala goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Gill the wrong way, the Hyderabad dug out and supporters at the stands erupted with joy while it was heartbreak for the passionate Kerala fans as spectators returned to the stadium to watch an ISL match after two years.
Earlier in the match, 22-year-old Rahul KP’s goal in the 68th minute put Kerala ahead, but Sahil Tavora equalised for Sahil Tavora with a stunning volley in the 88th minute. There was not much to differentiate between the two teams till Rahul broke the deadlock in the 68th minute with a stunning right-footed shot from outside the box.
Rahul came charging towards the goal and struck a blinder of a shot, to which rival custodian Kattimani only got a hand before hitting the net. Kerala must have thought they would lift their maiden ISL title but Tavora broke their hearts as he struck with a breath-taking right-footed volley from the edge of the box with just two minutes left for the final whistle.
The two sides failed to produce a winner in the extra-time as the game went to penalty shoot-out. Hyderabad midfielder Souvik Chakrabarti had a shot early in the match but Kerala goalie Prabhsukhan Singh Gill was upto the task to deal with it.
In the 14th minute, Harmanjot Khabra whipped a cross for striker Jorge Diaz, who was free inside the box, but the Argentine could not connect it. In the 23rd minute, Lalthathanga Khawlhring got the ball on the left-flank, skipped past Chakrabarti and passed it to Alvaro Vazquez, but the Hyderabad defenders did it well to not let the ball sneak behind the backline.
Kerala skipper Luna attempted a dipping shot from outside the box in the 30th minute but rival custodian Laximikanth Kattimani collected it with ease. Hyderabad had a chance to score when Javier Sivero, who replaced Joel Chianese, headed on target from a free-kick, but Gill made a wonderful save before Thounaojam Jeakson cleared the ball for the corner even as both the sides were locked 0-0 at half-time.
After the change of ends, Hyderabad started on the front foot and had a couple of chances in quick succession.