In a match that was decided solely from the penalty spot – in normal time and afterwards – Indian Navy sailed past defending champion and host Gokulam Kerala FC at the Corporation Stadium on Saturday.
The 7-6 win, via sudden-death, gave the Kochi-based club the crown. The score was 1-1 after regulation period.
Before the Navy men went ahead in the 79th minute through P. M. Britto strike from the spot, both the sides had enough chances to move the net.
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But a combination of poor finishing and solid defending, at either end, meant the score-sheet remained blank till Shibil Muhammed brought Navy's substitute striker Muhammed Inayath -- who had made a threatening run down the right flank – down.
Navy's joy, though, was shortlived. Just three minutes later, it returned the favour, as Anoop Pauly fouled Christian Sabah. The Ghanaian striker himself toot the kick and brought his side back into the game.
The equaliser came in the 82nd minute, setting up the penalty shootout, in which both sides scored four times each. That took them to the sudden-death, in which the host's hopes died when P. Sameel's strike well outside the post.
Navy's Abhishek N. Joshy, however, held his nerve and found the target with a deft kick. It proved a memorable kick for his team, which had been added to the league by KFA a bit late and that had upset some of the other teams.