Indian Super League trophy go to the traditional and most passionate home of Indian football as Atletico de Kolkata edged past Kerala Blasters 1-0 in the final in Navi Mumbai, bringing the curtains down on what proved to be a successful inaugural event.
Mohammad Rafique scored the most-important goal in the dying minutes to help Atletico de Kolkata emerge triumphant at the DY Patil Stadium. It was an exciting finish to the new league as the two teams battled it out for 90 minutes before Rafique found the target in the fourth minute of added time.
Just when it looked like the match would enter into extra time, substitute Rafique drove a header home in the last minute of the stoppage time off a corner kick by Jakub Podany.
Rafique, who came on in the 74th minute, slotted it to the left bottom corner leaving Sushanth Matthew, Sandesh Jhingan and Kerala goalkeeper David James shocked.
Former Newcastle United striker Michael Chopra and Iain Hume played well to enter the box but Josemi cleared the ball with a tackle to deny them an opportunity to go one up. It clearly wasn't Chopra's night. He missed a sitter in the 83rd minute after doing all the requisite hard work.
Collecting the ball from Hume, he took a couple of touches to edge past the defenders, but Bete dived to the left to pull off another stunning save.
Atletico de Kolkata skipper Luis Garcia started on the bench and Spanish forward Arnal Llibert was drafted in his place in the starting 11.
The winners became richer by Rs 8 crore, while the runners-up pocketed Rs 4 crore. League toppers Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa, the two semi-finalists, received a cash prize of Rs 1.5 crore each.
The Hero of the League award went to Blasters' Hume, while the Golden Boot was won by Chennaiyin FC's Brazilian recruit Elano Blumer. Sandesh Jinghan was named Emerging Player of the League while scorer of the title clash, Rafique was declared Hero of the Match.
Both the team owners, Sourav Ganguly (Atletico de Kolkata) and Sachin Tendulkar(Kerala Blasters), came to cheer their teams along with spinner Harbhajan Singh and tennis veteran Leander Paes.
The first edition of the eight-team tournament with celebrity owners and a sprinkling of high-profile players proved quite a hit in an otherwise cricket-crazy country.