Sethu FC delivered a blistering second-half display to beat Manipur Police SC 1-3 to win its maiden Hero Indian Women's League title on Wednesday at the Gurn Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana, Punjab.
Manipur had led through Radharani Devi at the death of the first-half but after the restart they had no response as the Madurai-based side equalized deservingly through Indhumathi, who finishes off a shattering counter attack before Sabitra Bhandari's brace put the game well-beyond the reach of the Manipur's hand to win the elusive maiden title.
Radharani Devi headed Manipur's opener
Both sets of players were struggling to find their feet in the game early on, but that made for an open contest. The girls from Tamil Nadu were very assured on the ball until Manipur started to create openings at will on the other end of the pitch.
However, the first chance of the match saw Sandhiya miss an open chance, with Ratanbala Devi heading on goal but denied by Elangbam Chanu out-stretched hand. Bala Devi meanwhile came close for Manipur Police, beating Sumithra in a mazy run forward, but she curled her shot just wide.
Minutes later, a great run and cross from Ratanbala Devi caused real problems for Umpapati Devi in the goal as she dropped the ball to Sabitra Bhandari but the striker couldn't find the net as her shot was well blocked.
Sandhiya fired a few warning shots for her side, but they were largely limited to efforts from range due to their opponent's defensive efforts.
As the game nearing its end of first-half, the pressure on the Sethu's goal though did tell when a well-worked move ended in a corner; the ball across the box for Radharani to head the ball into the net to get the all important first goal in the game just before the break.
Sethu storm out of sight
Sethu FC came out of the blocks in the second half and pulled a goal back 56th minute after the restart when Grace races down the right, crosses it in as Indumathi took a shot with any conviction, but it deflects off Umapati Devi and goes in to level things up as 1-1.
It would get even better for Sethu FC soon after. The ball was played into the box which found Sabitra Bhandari, the Nepal International beat the keeper and slips it into the net. It was her 14th goal of the campaign.
Seemingly shell-shocked, the Manipur conceded another soon after. There was nothing Elangbam Chanu could do this time, as Sandhiya breaks down the left, plays Sabitra through down the channel, as the latter slots it into the bottom corner.
From there on, it was a celebratory atmosphere marked with some swift counter-attacking football. Manipur couldn't find a way back into the game,and the referee whistle signaled the end of an entertaining game.
Sethu's win outlined that they are deserving winners throughout the campaign after previous attempts had fallen away in the semi-final. They beat a strong Manipur side 1-3 and have thus won the league for the first time ever.