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ATK Mohun Bagan

ISL 2021-22: Antonio Habas stands vindicated after emphatic win over East Bengal - Three talking points from the Kolkata Derby

09:30 GMT+3 28/11/2021
Joni Kauko  SC East Bengal ATK Mohun Bagan ISL 8
Clueless East Bengal avoid major embarrassment...

One has to take a walk down memory lane to recollect when was the last time a Kolkata Derby was so one-sided. Maybe, the one on September 6, 2015, when East Bengal thumped Mohun Bagan 4-0 in a Calcutta Football League (CFL) encounter courtesy of a brace from Do Dong-Hyun. However, on Saturday evening, both ATK Mohun Bagan and East Bengal started on an even keel. But once Roy Krishna scored the opener in the 12th minute followed by a quick second by Manvir Singh, the Red and Golds broke down like a pack of cards. Their heads hung, their shoulders dropped, and it seemed that they even lost the zeal to stage a fightback. Making the most of Arindam Bhattacharya's error, Liston Colaco added the third and it was checkmate for Bagan.

The Mariners had their plan executed to perfection while East Bengal looked like a collection of individuals with no sense of purpose. Let us look at the three major talking points of the match. 

Antonio Habas stands vindicated

Before the match, Habas emphasized that rather than having possession it is more important to utilise the spaces provided by the opposition. In the end, he stands vindicated as Bagan had less possession, fewer passes and yet looked in control. During the first goal, Krishna checked his run to create space for himself and made no mistake to put away Pritam Kotal's measured low cross at the back of the net. His side created several chances throughout the match and if there were a bit more clinical it could have been a tennis score. Nonetheless, they put up a professional performance and hardly put a foot wrong in the match. They stifled East Bengal in their tracks and never allowed them an opportunity to get back in the match.

Joni Kauko steals the show

The Finnish midfielder was absolutely brilliant as a box-to-box player and was even adjudged as the man of the match. He is likely to have covered every blade of grass on the pitch and put in an impressive display on both ends of the pitch. He was a bundle of energy as he hounded down the opposition players when not in possession and more importantly had the composure and vision to initiate moves after winning back the ball. He played in a more advanced position after Hugo Boumous was taken off and was linking up pretty well with Krishna in the attacking third. If he had been more clinical, he could have got his first derby goal in his debut appearance. Nevertheless, Kauko has been a valuable addition to the ATK Mohun Bagan squad and if he continues to perform in this vein Bagan will be difficult to stop in this season.

East Bengal players couldn't step up to the occasion

Though East Bengal were underdogs going into the derby, it was expected that the team would put up a fight especially after their gritty 1-1 draw against Jamshedpur in the season opener. However, none of their players stepped up to the occasion including skipper Arindam Bhattacharya.

The veteran goalkeeper had a night to forget. He switched to East Bengal from ATK Mohun Bagan at the beginning of the season but his performance was extremely disappointing. He was at fault for Manvir Singh's goal and was completely culpable for Liston Colaco's goal where he also injured himself and had to go off.

Similarly culpable were experienced East Bengal players like Bikash Jairu and Mohammed Rafique who wilted at the initial onslaught by ATK Mohun Bagan.

Darren Sidoel, in midfield, was pretty ordinary and could not influence the game and Antonio Perosevic, from whom much was expected, let down the team and the fans.