Mohun Bagan beat arch-rivals East Bengal 1-0 in I-League’s first Kolkata Derby on Sunday. Eze Kingsley’s header from a Sony Norde corner in the 39th minute earned Bagan full three points.
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.
As mentioned earlier in the preview, Jamil took 22 minutes to replace Mehtab with Lalramchullova.
The Red and Gold brigade chose to let the opposition see more of the ball and instead 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 to send the Green and Maroon fans in delirium.
Jamil switched his formation to a 4-4-2 and brought Charles D’Souza to replace Armand Bazzou.
In the 54th minute, Dipanda came off worse after a tackle by Eduardo Ferreira and was substituted four minutes later.
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.
Substitute Cavin Lobo unleashed a fierce shot from outside the box which took a deflection and went out for a corner. In the closing stages of the game, Laldanmawia Ralte sent in a peach of a shot which was somehow kept out by Paul in goal, a save which was applauded by the Bagan faithful.
Bagan held firm in the face of East Bengal’s attacks as Sanjoy Sen once again masterminded a home win over Khalid Jamil’s outfit.