East Bengal 0-0 Mohun Bagan : The High Voltage Kolkata Derby Ends In A Stalemate
The high voltage Kolkata Derby between the two arch-rivals East Bengal and Mohun Bagan finished in a 0-0 stalemate at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri today(12 Feb).
Both coaches, Trevor Morgan and Sanjoy Sen, refused to tinker with their signature 4-4-2 formation. East Bengal played their diamond formation while Bagan went with their traditional 4-4-2.
Mehtab Hossain returned to the East Bengal squad after missing the last game with a suspension. As for Mohun Bagan, Brazilian-born Eduardo Ferreira marked his return after missing out on a few matches owing to injury.
The enthusiasm surrounding the derby reached fever pitch as thousands of fans travelled all the way from Kolkata to cheer for their favourite club.
It was a typical feisty start to the game, as expected in a high-voltage clash.
Bagan found their attacking edge in the 14th minute of the match when Norde's low cross from the left fell unexpectedly for Pritam, after Duffy took a stumble, but Pritam's weak shot on goal was comfortably saved by Rehenesh.
East Bengal got their first shot on target in the 22nd minute when Plaza's angled shot on goal was comfortably collected by the Bagan custodian, Debjit Majumdar.
Much was spoken about the star attackers of both the Kolkata giants before the match, but it was the defenders who were the real heroes of the derby. Ivan Bukenya was invincible in the air and kept Bagan's forward line at bay. Mohun Bagan defenders also resorted to a safety first approach, clearing everything that came their way.
Mohun Bagan's Haitian magician, Sony Norde had a subdued start to the game, as he was handed no space to weave his magic. Norde, however, showcased his class in the 34th minute when his in-swinging corner almost went directly into the goal but Rehenesh's timely intervention saved East Bengal the blushes.
Bagan got another golden opportunity to find the elusive opening goal in the 44th minute when Souvik Chakraborty picked up a tame clearance at the edge of the box before dribbling past two defenders and curling the ball straight into the hands of Rehenesh.
Temperatures soared up just before half time when Didika got into a scuffle with Duffy after Duffy had accidentally stamped on Rehenesh. It needed quick intervention from the referee to separate both parties.
East Bengal looked the better side after the restart with Wedson and Poojari dominating the midfield. Bagan defenders looked nervous and they started to make mistakes. It was one such lapse in concentration from Eduardo in the 57th minute which could have gifted East Bengal their first goal. Eduardo hesitated to clear a Robin Singh header as Willis Plaza breezed past him with the ball unleashing a lethal volley on goal, but Debjit showed brilliant reflexes to deny him.
Jeje Lalpekhlua's derby woes continued as he failed to make a mark on the game. He was eventually replaced by Balwant Singh in the 75th minute.
Balwant could have been a hero in the dying embers of the match but his attempted header from a Pritam Kotal cross went wide of the goal. A minute later his attempted pass to Duffy from the left was crucially intercepted by the towering Bukenya saving East Bengal's skins yet again.
The match thus finished goalless, with both sides being reasonably happy with a solitary point.
East Bengal maintained their top spot in the standings with 20 points from 8 games, whereas, Mohun Bagan are on 17 points from 7 games.
Both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan will play their next match league match on 15th February. East Bengal will be up against Shillong Lajong at Siliguri, whereas Bagan would travel all the way to Mumbai to lock horns with Mumbai FC.
Man of the Match : Rehenesh TP
FeverPitch's Man of the Match : Ivan Bukenya