Kattimani the hero as HFC trump Kerala Blasters 3-1 on penalties to make history
Goa: Hyderabad FC created history when they beat Kerala Blasters on penalties to lift the Hero Indian Super League title on Sunday. Manolo Marquez’s side won the penalty shootout 3-1 after Sahil Tavora (88’) equalized late in regular time to cancel out Rahul KP’s 66th minute opener on a thrilling night in Goa, as Hyderabad bagged their first-ever national level senior trophy in almost six decades.
Manolo’s side narrowly missed out on the League Shield earlier in the season but beat ATK Mohun Bagan in the semi-finals to make it to their first ever Indian Super League final and managed to go all the way in the first time of asking, albeit in a nerve wrecking manner.
The return of fans for the first time in two seasons stole the headlines before the game as Fatorda was sold out pretty quick for the final of the 8th edition of the ISL. But both Manolo and Ivan Vukomanovic were not fazed, as they sent out their teams all guns blazing for one final time in the season.
While the Blasters did manage to hit the crossbar in either half, Hyderabad FC managed to create a foothold in the game, and silenced Fatorda, that was dominated by the Kerala yellow. The likes of Javi Siverio, Bartholomew Ogbeche and Aniket Jadhav all had good chances on the night for Hyderabad, but came up against an inspired Prabhsukhan Gill in the Blasters goal who made multiple saves. Meanwhile, it was Rahul KP who finally broke the deadlock.
Rahul, who looked lively, chanced his arm and let one fly from distance and Laxmikant Kattimani failed to deal with a dipping shot, which he could have saved. The Blasters then stood strong for most of the game to try and see out the one-goal lead.
But it proved to be costly as Sahil Tavora scored a stunning equalizer, two minutes from time. He hit a volley from outside the box that beat Gill with pace and dip, to bring HFC back into the game.
That was Tavora’s first goal for Hyderabad FC as he chose the perfect time to get off the mark, taking the game to extra-time. While the half-hour of extra time was eventful, neither team came close to breaking the deadlock and the crowd braced themselves for spot-kicks as the night grew older and tension in the ground turned more intense.
And it was the Laxmikant Kattimani show then, as the Goan shot-stopper put all his experience to use and never gave the Blasters a chance in the shootout.
Kattimani did exceptionally well to save penalties from Marko Leskovic, Nishu Kumar (twice, after the first one was cancelled) and Jeakson Singh while Joao Victor, Khassa Camara and Halicharan Narzary converted with plomb to make Hyderabad FC the Champions on the night.
Alvaro Vasquez and Jorge Pereyra Diaz were both subbed off before the shootout which left Kerala Blasters a bit short on experience and it was Hyderabad FC’s night, who won the trophy in the first time of asking.
Unsurprisingly, Kattimani was the Hero of the Match, while Bart Ogbeche who won his second title in two years also received the Golden Boot for his record equaling 18-goal season and Hyderabad FC’s party lasted till late in the night.