Mohun Bagan glide past East Bengal as the ex Aizawl FC player scores
Following Mohun Bagan’s derby win against East Bengal, thanks to Kingsley Obumneme’s first-half header, the Salt Lake stadium could be neatly divided in two halves. One part was a heaving, throbbing, crying mass of humanity in green and maroon interchangeably screaming ‘Joy Bagan’ and hurling insults at their rivals. The other was largely deserted, save for a few holdouts – some painted in red and gold sprawled listlessly on a seat.
Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen lined-up in a 4-4-2 formation with Aser Dipanda and Ansumana Kromah upfront. Sony Norde and Naro Hari Shrestha were deployed on the flanks.
For East Bengal, under fire goalkeeper Mirshad K. who conceded two poor goals against Aizawl FC was replaced by skipper Luis Barreto. Laldanmawia Ralte came in place of Mohammed Rafique while Gurwinder Singh got the nod ahead of Salam Ranjan Singh.
The game started at a frenetic pace with both teams keen to gain an early advantage. Most of Mohun Bagan’s attacks came from the left where Norde was deployed. The Haitian exposed Mehtab Singh’s vulnerability to pace and threatened the East Bengal rearguard. Singh was replaced by Chullova Pautu in the 22nd minute.
“We have won the derby, we haven’t won the league,” Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen cautioned after the game. But just a few minutes earlier, Sen’s players appeared to have forgotten that advice just for a bit. After only their second game of the I-League season, they pressed their head to the turf, sank to their knees and then did a lap of honour around the ground.
The Red and Gold brigade focused on counter-attacks. Willis Plaza, as has been the case with him in big matches, once again missed an opportunity to put his team into the lead when he completely misjudged the flight of the ball from a Brandon Vanlalremdika’s cross.
Sanjoy Sen too made a substitution in the first half by introducing Sk. Faiaz in place of Naro Hari Shrestha on the right flank.
Bagan broke the deadlock in the 39th minute when a Norde flag-kick was headed home by an unmarked Eze Kingsley. The Green and Maroons went into the tunnel with a 1-0 lead at half-time.
Khalid Jamil switched to plan B by converting to a 4-4-2 formation, and brought in Charles De Souza in place of Bazie Armando.
In the 54th minute, Dipanda was injured by a dangerous tackle by Edu Ferreira and was injured immediately by Shilton D’ Silva.
Plaza should have restored parity when he was in a one-on-one situation in the 75th minute. Goalkeeper Shilton Paul came off his line to deny the Trinidad and Tobago striker to ensure that Bagan continued to have the slender lead.
The rest of the match was dominated by the home team, except a few occasions and the match ended in their favour.
MOHUN BAGAN AC: Shilton Paul(GK), Arijit Bagui, Kingsuk Debnath, Eze Kingsley, Ricky Lallawmawma, Yuta Kinowaki, Ansumana Kromah, Sony Norde(C), Raynier Fernandes, Narohori Sreshtha, Dipanda Dicka.
KINGFISHER EAST BENGAL FC: Luis Xavier Barreto(GK/C), Deepak Kumar, Eduardo Ferreira, Gurwinder Singh Phagura, Mehtab Singh, Bazie Armando, Brandon Vanlalremdika, Mahmoud Al Amna, Katsumi Yusa, Laldanmawia Ralte, Willis Deon Plaza.