Kolkata: Mohun Bagan overcame East Bengal 1-0 in the first I-League Kolkata derby of the season under an overwhelming atmosphere at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium on Sunday. Eze Obumneme Kingsley’s bullet of a header in the 39th minute was the only goal of the match, that decided the outcome.
The match started at a frantic pace, with both sides playing some cagey football before the Mariners took hold. East Bengal custodian Luis Barreto who had replaced Mirshad K. in the line-up, pulled out an amazing save from a Sony Norde corner while Plaza failed to connect one, for the Red and Gold brigade.
The fans in green and maroon went wild after Bagan scored from a low corner. East Bengal had conceded twice from set-pieces in the previous match but not learning from their mistake the defence was again caught napping, as a low delivery by Norde was nodded home by Jamil’s favourite player from last season, Kingsley Obumneme. The defender had lead the Aizawl defence last season leading them to title glory and stood up to spoil the beans yet again.
The match was however an example of not only Sanjoy Sen’s brilliant tactics but also of East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil’s stubbornness. Right back Mehtab Singh was exploited by Nigerian Dodoz in the previous match, but the former Mumbai City coach once again deployed him, with a same result. Facing a Haitian magician Norde, Mehtab looked like a child, playing in an adult game and was soon substituted in the 22nd minute for Lalramchullova.
Both the sides nonetheless looked well settled after the break, with the Red and Gold brigade switching to 4-4-2 formation. Jamil was at fault again. Plaza did not have a great campaign during the Calcutta Football League and was supposed to be released by the officials, but Jamil had come to his rescue. The Trinidad and Tobago striker had his chances to restore faith of the manager and should have well restored parity in the 75th minute. But one-on-one with the goalkeeper, he took ages to place his shot giving Shilton Paul enough time to collect the ball.
Desperate for a goal, Jamil threw Cavin Lobo into the cards, whose powerful shot nearly settled things for the Red and Gold Brigade, but Paul as brilliant he had been all day, stood up to the task.
The Bagan camp of late has been often accused of being extra defensive in the last stages of a match, conceding late goals but the Mariners stood up on the biggest of occasions, when it mattered the most. The win also kept Sanjoy Sen’s home win record against Jamil intact.