- Associated Press - Saturday, December 20, 2014

MUMBAI, India (AP) - A crowd of more than 40,000 watched the inaugural Indian Super League final come to a thrilling end, as Mohammad Rafique headed in off a corner in injury time for Atletico de Kolkata to beat Kerala Blasters 1-0 on Saturday.

Rafique’s goal was the 27th by an Indian in the 10-week league, which was organized with the aim of bringing Indian players in focus and raising the profile of football in the country.

That need was made clear by promotion for the final, which was billed as a contest between former India cricket stars Sourav Ganguly, who co-owns Kolkata, and Sachin Tendulkar, who co-owns Kerala.

The celebrity team owners, also including India cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, vice-captain Virat Kohli, and some Indian movie actors, helped to push the new league’s profile initially, but organizers have since then hailed the eight-team competition as a success, claiming it to be the most watched domestic league in Asia.

The crowds came out to watch the likes of Nicolas Anelka, Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezeguet, and Robert Pires, and while Kolkata didn’t feature injured captain and marquee player Luis Garcia in the final, it was helped largely by Armenian goalkeeper Apoula Edel, who made some fine saves.


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