Mohun Bagan completed a league double on arch-rivals East Bengal as they won 2-0 in a 2017-18 I-League Kolkata derby at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday.
Aser Pierrick Dipanda (1' and 35') scored a brace to help the Green and Maroons grab the bragging rights as East Bengal succumbed to their second loss of the season.
Both sides made three changes from their last outings. East Bengal left out striker Jobby Justin, winger Laldanmawia Ralte and midfielder Armand Bazzoau. Dudu Omagbemi, in his first game in his second stint at the club, slotted in with Willis Plaza up front while Mohammed Rafique was called back.
For Bagan, new signing Akram Moghrabi was paired with Aser Pierrick Dipanda in attack as Nikhil Kadam was deployed on the wings after Sony Norde's departure from the club. Shilton Paul miraculously made a recovery from a stomach infection to feature in between the sticks.
Form the start, Raynier Fernandes was all action in midfield and he took on first Mahmoud Al Amna and then Willis Plaza to retrieve the ball back for a quick attack. Watson found Nikhil Kadam whose cross from the right was directed towards Moghrabi, He brilliantly headed down the ball for Dipanda who slotted home with his first touch within 55 seconds to send the Bagan faithful into delirium.
East Bengal were dealt a blow as Mahmoud Al Amna was forced out of action after pulling a muscle in an off-the-ball incident. Armand Bazzoau was brought in and the East Bengal midfield never looked the same ever since.
Mohun Bagan were the better side for much of the game and luck really did not go East Bengal's way as Willis Plaza's header which went into the net was disallowed. Katsumi Yusa had delivered a corner which swung in after going out in the 27th minute.
Dipanda then brought up his brace from Raynier's flag-kick to double the lead. Both East Bengal defenders, Salam Ranjan Singh and Arnab Mondal, were caught napping inside the box as Dipanda was allowed space to shoot a half-volley past a hapless Luis Barreto.
A third goal should have been registered for Bagan as Nikhil Kadam squandered a gilt-edged opportunity from seven yards. The winger was released by Dipanda in the box and with only the 'keeper to beat, Kadam took a weak shot which Barreto saved with a dive right before halftime.
Arnab Mondal was sacrificed by Jamil early in the second half but the story of the game remained the same. East Bengal failed to put pressure on their rivals though Salam Ranjan Singh did much better as he was put in a central role and Bazzoau slotted in at left-back.
Surabuddin Mollick's shot past the hour mark was on target - the first bit of action for Shilton Paul in the game, which highlighted Bagan's dominance.
Akram Moghrabi had the best chance to impress his new set of fans in the 73rd minute when Dipanda cut past his markers to chip the ball into the box. But the Lebanese striker could only shoot the ball over the crossbar from 16 yards.
Nikhil Kadam really turned on the heat in the last ten minutes as he first shot wide from Moghrabi's ball from the right. The former Mumbai FC man also turned provider with Moghrabi's header from his cross going wide in the dying embers of the game.
Cavin Lobo at the other end tried his level best as he delivered scrumptious balls to the forwards players, with Dudu Omagbemi missing a header - summing up a lukewarm day at the office.
Kadam, who had been brilliant and wasteful at the same time, hit the bar at the far post in the last minute of added time.
Mohun Bagan moved up two spots to break into the top four in the table as they now have 16 points from ten games. East Bengal slipped further behind in the title race and trail leaders Minerva Punjab by three points but have played two extra games.