New Delhi: Kerala Blasters defeated ten-man Delhi Dynamos on penalties in the return-leg of the second semifinal to make the final of Indian Super League (ISL) at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Wednesday.
Needing a draw after their 1-0 first-leg win, Kerala fought off a sluggish start to force the shoot-out in Delhi. Blasters won the shoot-out 3-0 after the extra-time failed to produce a winner following 2-1 score-line.
They will play Atletico de Kolkata in the repeat of 2014 season, which Kerala lost 0-1 at Mumbai's DY Patil Stadium.
After losing the the first leg in Kochi by a Kervens Belfort solitary goal on Sunday, Gianluca Zambrotta's outfit started well in front of the home crowd. Marcelinho provided just the perfect cushion by scoring the first goal of the match in the 21st minute. The Brazilian midfielder's left footed finish from the centre of the box managed to beat Sandip Nandy to the centre of the goal.
But Steve Coppell's visiting side fought back in no-time, with Haitian forward Duckens Nazon finding the equaliser in the 24th minute. The runners-up from the inaugural edition of the tournament, however, were gifted with a one-man advantage when diminutive Manipuri midfielder O Milan was shown the marching orders for a high jab in the 28th minute.
Nazon linked with Spaniard midfielder Josu and buried the equaliser past Toni Doblas to the bottom right corner.
The visitors, however, failed to take full advantage of the situation and found themselves trailing once again in the first-half stoppage time thanks to a Gonzalez Ruben score. In the seventh minute of the first-half injury time, the Spaniard defender connected a header from a Marcos Tebar free-kick, and the ball found the back of the net to the bottom right corner.
It was one of the many opportunities the home have managed to create for themselves. But their attempts on the goal could found the target only three times, including those two goals in the first half.
The firs-half also witnessed three more bookings, beside that Milan red-card as the period witnessed frequent stoppages.
The second-half started with the home side keeping their control in the match, and managed to create as many seven chances, of which two hit the target, as against Kerala's one from four. All these while, Delhi's marquee player and French legend Florent Malouda started to impose his presence.
The celebrated midfielder operating with his Indian understudy Kean Lewis dominated the midfield , but their push for the third goal failed to come in the regulation time. For the visitors, Cedric Hengbart's towering presence in the centre of the defensive line once again made the difference.
With the aggregate score-line remaining 2-2 after the end of the regulation-time, extra-time was forced in Delhi to decide the second finalists of ISL's third season.
In extra-time, Malouda continued to dominate the play, and this time, he partnered with Marcelinho to virtually prowl the midfield, but without success.
In the shoot-out, the home team suffered a melt-down so catastrophic that the Delhi crowd was left aghast as Malouda, Bruno Pelissari and Emerson de Moura missed their kicks.
For Kerala, Antonio German missed the kick but Josu, Belfort and Mohammed Rafique scored from the spot.
Kolkata made their final with a 3-2 aggregate win after a goal-less draw against Mumbai City FC yesterday.
Final will be played on December 18, at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi.