Gokulam Kerala were crowned champions of the Hero Indian Women's League after a dramatic 3-2 victory over Kangchup Road Young Physical and Sports Association (KRYPHSA) FC in the final here on Friday.
Gokulam Kerala 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, it was Sabitra Bhandari who struck a late winner for Gokulam.
The Malabarians took the lead after just 49 seconds on the clock. Kryphsa were caught napping when a speculative clearance from the Gokulam half found Sabitra Bhandari.
She got away with her sheer pace before delivering an inviting cross into the box. Prameshwori Devi was the first to react and found the back of the net with an instinctive finish.
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, who didn't stand a chance.
Kryphsa roared back in the 33rd minute to change the complexion of the game altogether.
Ranjan Chanu's immaculate set-piece delivery from the left found Anju Tamang, who managed to flick 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.