Laxmikant Kattimani went from villain to hero to give Hyderabad FC their first Indian Super League title, breaking Kerala Blasters‘ hearts in a penalty shootout victory in the final at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa on Sunday.
Kattimani’s mistake had handed Blasters a 1-0 lead in the second half, but Sahil Tavora‘s stunner took the game to extra time and then penalty shootouts.
The 32-year-old goalkeeper then produced three saves in the tie-breakers to take the silverware to Hyderabad.
While Hyderabad won the trophy in their first final appearance, this is Blasters’ third defeat in an ISL final and their second in a shootout as their wait continues.
Blasters’ injured attacker Sahal Abdul Samad failed to recover in time while Adrian Luna started by shrugging off a slight knock. Hyderabad made two changes with playmaker Joel Chianese returning from an injury that kept him out of the semifinals and Asish Rai preferred at right-back.
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Both sides were taking no prisoners straight from kick off. Tempers flared as Sandeep Singh lunged in on Hyderabad’s Mohammed Yashir earning a yellow card. Jorge Pereyra Diaz was the first to threaten for Blasters as he failed to get the right connection on a Harmanjot Khabra cross in the 14th minute.
Bartholomew Ogbeche played Chianese through on goal in a rare chance for Hyderabad in the 37th minute, but the latter’s cross failed to find the Nigerian forward inside the box. That was Chianese’s last involvement in the final as he made way for Javier Siverio after escalating his injury.
After a cagey start, the first-half ended with a flurry of chances as Alvaro Vazquez rattled the crossbar in the 39th minute before an unmarked Siverio’s header from a Yasir freekick was hit straight at goalkeeper Gill as the teams went into the break goalless.
After Blasters dominated the possession and chances in the first period, it was Hyderabad who began strongly after the restart as Joao Victor tested Gill from distance four minutes in before Ogbeche got behind the Blasters defence in the 55th minute, only to balloon his effort over the goal.
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But it was Blasters who broke the deadlock as Rahul was given plenty of space at the edge of the box and the Kerala boy did not turn down the invitation. His effort crept below Hyderabad shot-stopper Laxmikant Kattimani into the goal, giving Blasters a lead to defend for the final 22 minutes.
Gill came to the rescue of Vukomanovic’s side in the 76th palming away a vicious free-kick from Ogbeche in the 76th minute before Juanan shot over from the follow-up. However, Gill could do nothing in the 88th minute as Tavora’s screaming volley took the game into extra time. Blasters’ relationship with the woodwork continued in the extra-time as Jeakson Singh rattled the crossbar seven minutes.
? ????????? ?? ????? ?That’s it, that’s the tweet!మన దగ్గర బేరాలు లేవమ్మా ?#ThisIsOurGame #మనహైదరాబాద్… https://t.co/413d0WhjCU
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Hyderabad also had the chance to win it as Ogbeche beat Gill in the 110th minute only for Marko Leskovic to clear off the line. Kattimani saved Blasters’ first two penalties from Leskovic and Nishu Kumar, but Siverio failed to hit the target from Hyderabad’s second. Jeakson had to score Blasters’ fourth to keep his side in the game, but Kattimani once again came up with a save.