'Champions': Hyderabad FC defeats Kerala to win Hero Indian Super League

Kattiman saved four shots in the penalty shootout including one that was saved, retaken, and saved again to instead hand his team the trophy

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  21 March 2022 3:57 AM GMT
Champions: Hyderabad FC defeats Kerala to win Hero Indian Super League

Fatorda, Goa: Laxmikant Kattimani saved three penalties as Hyderabad FC rose above the din with a 3-1 victory in a nerve-racking penalty shootout over Kerala Blasters FC and their sea of yellow supporters, in a rip-roaring 2021-22 Hero ISL-Indian Super League final at the packed PJN Stadium in Fatorda on Sunday. Kattiman saved four shots in the penalty shootout including one that was saved, retaken, and saved again to instead hand his team the trophy.

Hyderabad FC became champions for the first time, vindicating Manolo Marquez's vision of a well-rounded team with the perfect blend of youth and experience, but it took a lottery to decide the winners in an evenly-contested summit clash that ended 1-1 after extra time as the two teams could not be separated in 90 minutes.

Rahul KP (68th) opened the scoring for Kerala, Kattimani failing to get his hands to a long-ranger before Sahil Tavora (88th) scored a stunning goal to equalize and take the game to extra time. After the outfits canceled each other out over 30 minutes, it had to be a shootout to decide the champions.

Hyderabad FC won the shootout—the second in an ISL final after Atletico de Kolkata's 2016 triumph—3-1 after it ended 1-1 in regulation and extra time for their maiden ISL title in their maiden final. Kerala, meanwhile, were third-time unlucky in the final, twice on penalties.

It was heartbreak for Kerala as they reached the final for the third time, only to finish second best when it mattered the most. A chunk of Blasters fans had made the trip from Kerala to Goa for the final and their team gave them ample reason to be upbeat in the first half, dictating the pace and possession (61%). The crossbar stood between Kerala and the lead, with Alvaro Vazquez's thunderous right-footer from the right hitting the post in the 39th minute.

Hyderabad FC, largely flat in the opening 45 minutes, found the spring in their step in added time, courtesy of a header by substitute Javier Siverio that needed a fine save Kerala goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Gill. Just as Hyderabad were calling the shots, Kerala struck against the run of play in the 68th minute. The Thrissur-born Rahul KP found some space to go on a bit of a solo run on the right and aimed from outside the box. Kattimani got his hands to the ball, which still slipped through.

Kerala were almost home before Sahil Tavora's moment of brilliance opened the door for Hyderabad. The substitute midfielder came charging in to a ball headed just outside the box, get it on the bounce with his right foot, and fired it with direction, dip, and power to the right of a diving Gill. Hyderabad were dealt a blow when Joel Chianese had to be replaced by Javier Siverio as the former picked up an injury in the 39th minute, and almost immediately Vazquez found the woodwork after Luna put in a delightful ball inside the box for Khabra to chest it down and Vazquez charging in to have a crack at goal first time. The missile of a strike cannoned off the crossbar as Hyderabad heaved a sigh of relief.

In extra time, Ogbeche's overhead kick went just wide in the first half while the Nigerian's effort was cleared off the line in the second essay by Marko Leskovic. Kerala coach Ivan Vukomanovic replaced Vazquez with Vincy Barretto, raising a few eyebrows but it looked it the Spaniard had picked up a knock.

Next Story
Share it