Vineeth and Postiga's flop show, Jewel Raja's winning penalty and more, here are five takeways from the night that Atletico de Kolkata beat Kerala Blasters to win their second ISL title.
The legend of the Kochi press box
A day before before the final, ISL organizers repeatedly instructed journalists to "please arrive at the stadium hours before kick-off". For good reason, too. Immersed in a sea of yellow, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was rocking long before a ball was kicked, with fans desperate to grab a ticket at the last minute. At the media tribune - located right above the West Gallery - a group of 40 journalists seemed to be shielded from all the noise and action, but a fellow reporter quickly offered a clarification.
Legend (or unverified WhatsApp forwards) had it, he explained, that the press box would "shake like nothing you've ever seen before" whenever a Kerala goal was scored, owing to the large number of fans seated both above and below the tribune.
Sure enough, in the 37th minute, Mohammed Rafi brought the roof down - almost literally - when he headed in Kerala's opening goal, leaving more than a few nervous journalists holding tightly to their chair. The stadium had been brimming with excitement even before that moment, but Rafi drew the biggest roar of the night, even beating out "Saaaachin, Saaaaachin".
The marquee who missed
Helder Postiga has had minimal impact on Atletico de Kolkata's fortunes this season, but on Sunday night, he was involved in nearly everything the visitors created going forward in the first half. Postiga made the right runs, linked up well with Iain Hume, and held up the play to bring others into the game. All that was missing, though, was the finish, as he squandered three golden chances in 45 minutes. He missed the target from inside the box following a one-two with Hume, fluffed a clear shot at goal after a cut back from Sameehg Doutie, and curled wide with his left foot when he had both the time and space to test the keeper. Kolkata might have expected more composure from someone with over 100 goals in European club football.
The marquee who was missed
Aaron Hughes has had a stop-start campaign with Kerala due to injuries, but whenever he has played, he has mostly been rock solid at back alongside Cedric Hengbart, holding the line and mopping up anything tossed high. Hughes had picked up an injury in extra-time during the semifinal against Delhi Dynamos, but carried on for the last few minutes since his team was out of substitutes. In the 34th minute of the final, Hughes collided with a team-mate while going in for a challenge, and it was clear he was in pain as he immediately signaled towards the bench. The physios tried the best to patch him up, but Hughes' ISL campaign eventually came to an unfortunate end, as he was replaced by Elhadji Ndoye. He walked off to a rousing reception from the home fans, who let their appreciation towards their captain and leader be known.
The missing spark
CK Vineeth ended ISL3 as the leading Indian scorer, but he was reduced to a non-entity in the final, failing to offer absolutely anything up front. Early in the match, he made a thrilling run down the right flank and delivered a teasing cross to the back post; that would be as much attacking contribution he would make all night. Vineeth did not test the keeper, make a telling pass, offer enough protection to his full-back Sandesh Jhingan, or step up during the shootout, watching from the halfway line as his team went down in agonizing fashion.
The Jewel that silenced Kochi
Not many may have heard of Jewel Raja before Sunday. That's unlikely to be the case any longer. It's difficult to imagine what must have been going through Raja's head as he stepped up to take Kolkata's fifth and final kick. Thousands in yellow looked to put him off, but Raja was the calmest man in the stadium. It almost seemed as if he was unaware that the fate of the trophy rested on his right foot, as he walked towards the penalty spot, and coolly sent the keeper the wrong way. If he didn't feel anything up to that point, he certainly did so five seconds later as a hoard of Kolkata players jumped on him in jubilation, celebrating their second ISL title in three years.