Kolkata: Defending champions East Bengal continued their hold on the Calcutta Football League trophy, winning it for the record eight successive time after playing out a hard fought 2-2 draw against arch-rivals Mohun Bagan at the Kanchenjunga Stadium, Siliguri on Sunday. Goals from Laldanmawia and Al-Amnah were enough to maintain East Bengal’s unbeaten run in the tournament.
Coming to the title deciding CFL derby between the two Kolkata giants, East Bengal needed just a draw, while it was a do-or-die encounter for the Mariners. Although both the teams were tied on equal points, East Bengal lead the points table courtesy a greater goal difference.
Bagan looked more threatening in the early moments of the match, taking an unexpected lead only the third minute of the match when Azharuddin’s shot took a deflection of East Bengal defender Carlyle Mitchell putting goalkeeper Barreto on the wrong-foot. The Mariners created numerous chances in the first-half often outnumbering the East Bengal counterparts in the midfield and could have scored a couple of goals had they been more lethal on attack.
East Bengal, despite not being in good touch however got the much needed equaliser in the 43rd minute through Laldanmawia Ralte from a clever Brandon Fernandes free kick.
The second half started in a similar fashion as Bagan took the lead for a second time. Carlyle was at the wrong end on both the occasions, this time giving away a penalty in the 48th minute. Kromah made no mistake calmly slotting the ball inside the net to make it 2-1 for the former I-League champions.
However, the game was far from over as Syrian recruit Al-Amnah equalised for the Red and Gold brigade in the 65th minute from another controversial penalty after young Raynier had fouled in the box.
The game also saw a late drama when the referee produced two back to back red cards, one each for both the teams. Captain Kingshuk Debnath was sent off for the Bagan camp, while Surabuddin Mollick saw two back to back yellow cards after coming on as a substitute. Laldanmawia Ralte was duly named the hero of the derby, for his brilliant show in the match.
Bagan will rue their missed chances and only wonder what if they had put in at least one of those. Kamo missed two clear chances in the matches thereby gifting the league to the arch -rivals despite being better on the day.
East Bengal meanwhile won the title for record 39th time in the League’s 75 year history.