ISL: Rafique makes Mumbai Kolkata's city of joy
Atletico de Kolkata were crowned champions of the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) after a Mohammed Rafique goal deep into injury-time gave them a 1-0 win over Kerala Blasters FC at Navi Mumbai's DY Patil Stadium on Saturday.
Atletico de Kolkata's marquee man Luis Garcia holds aloft the ISL trophy
Rafique, who came on as a substitute in the 74th minute, headed in Kolkata's goal from a Jakub Podany corner kick in the 93rd minute. This was Rafique's maiden ISL goal.
Kerala had only themselves to blame for their loss after their forwards spurned multiple scoring opportunities. Kerala's best chance came in the 83rd minute when Iain Hume's deflected cross fell in the path of Indian origin striker, Michael Chopra.
With a couple of nifty touches, he turned a couple of defenders before his fierce shot from three yards out was acrobatically kept out by Kolkata goalkeeper Apoula Edel Bete.
Atletico de Kolkata's Mohammed Rafique (left) celebrates after scoring against Kerala Blasters FC in the ISL final at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Saturday. Pics/Shadab Khan
Cameroonian Bete was the man of the match for Kolkata as he consistently kept the Blasters at bay. He even denied a neatly executed Hume free-kick (40th min).
Then, just when it seemed the match would go into extra time, Rafique scored to send ATK co-owner Sourav Ganguly into wild celebration.
"At the start, we knew that this tournament is not for marquee players but for emerging Indian players. I'm glad an Indian scored tonight," said ATK's marquee player Luis Garcia.
Kerala's international star David James was a disappointed man. "We did not have the best XI tonight. Kolkata was the best team in the tournament and we did well to push them till the last minute," said James.