Gokulam Kerala pip Kryphsa in thrilling final to clinch maiden IWL title

Gokulam Kerala players celebrate with the trophy after winning the 2020 IWL final. AIFF

Gokulam Kerala were crowned champions of the 2020 Indian Women's League after a dramatic 3-2 victory over Kangchup Road Young Physical and Sports Association (KRYPHSA) FC in the final in Bengaluru on Friday.

Gokulam raced to a 2-0 lead through early goals from Prameshwori Devi and Kamala Devi but Dangmei Grace pulled one back for Kryphsa to reduce the deficit before half-time.

Ratanbala Devi levelled the scores in the second half to set her team on course for what would have been a phenomenal comeback. However, Sabitra Bhandari struck a late winner for Gokulam.

Gokulam took the lead after just 49 seconds as Kryphsa were caught napping when a speculative clearance from the Gokulam half found Sabitra Bhandari. She delivered an inviting cross into the box, which was finished instinctively Prameshwori Devi.

The lead could have been doubled just five minutes later after Kamala Devi had put Bhandari through on goal. The latter made no mistake with her finish but her goal was ruled out for a foul on a covering Sweety Devi.

In the 25th minute, Gokulam earned a free-kick on the edge of the 18-yard box for a foul on Michel Castanha. Kamala Devi volunteered for the dead ball and with a stroke of luck, her curling effort took a deflection of the yellow wall and crept beyond the reach of keeper Linthoingambi Devi.

Kryphsa struck back in the 33rd minute when Ranjan Chanu's immaculate set-piece delivery from the left found Anju Tamang, who flicked it to the far post with the back of her head. Gokulam keeper Aditi Chauhan's punch lacked power, leaving Dangmei Grace with an empty goal to aim at.

A clearance from Aditi Chauhan in the 69th minute found Kamala Devi, who put Sabitra Bhandari though on goal but Linthoingambi Devi did brilliantly to come off her line to avert the danger.

With the match picking up pace, Kryphsa's Roja Devi's chip found Ratanbala Devi in the box and the latter stretched her right foot to beat an onrushing Aditi Chauhan and got her side back on level terms.

With just three minutes remaining of normal time, Manisha Kalyan won an aerial battle on the edge of the 18-yard box, before providing a low-driven delivery across goal. Gokulam talisman Bhandari was there again to finish.