I-League: Mohun Bagan Earn Bragging Rights After Emphatic 2-1 Victory Over East Bengal
Riding on two wonder strikes from Sony Norde (35') and Azharuddin Mallick (43'), Mohun Bagan registered a comfortable 2-1 win over arch-rivals East Bengal in a round 15 clash of the Hero I-League at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri today.
Bagan's emphatic win sees them just one point off from league leaders Aizawl FC with a game in hand. A last-gasp goal from Rowlin Borges (90+3') gave East Bengal some hope, but it was too little too late.
It was the Mariners who started on the front foot, and that was set as the trend for the next 90 minutes. Darryl Duffy and Balwant Singh wrecked havoc in the East Bengal box in the opening 10 minutes, but could not produce the desired goal.
The Red and Gold Brigade tried to string a few passes together, with Mehtab Hossein and Wedson Anselme leading the move. However, the attacks kept breaking down in the final third, and eventually the pace of the game slowed down with Raju Gaikwad receiving a yellow card in the 17th minute for a poor foul on Rowlin Borges.
With both the teams settling in, it was Sony Norde who took center stage. The Haitian rang rings around the away team’s players, as he kept combining with Katsumi Yusa and Balwant Singh and forced TP Rehenesh to make a number of vital saves. He eventually got his goal in the 35th minute, after he wrapped his right foot around the ball from a free kick outside the box.
Trevor Morgan responded to the goal by bringing off Abinash Ruidas and bringing on Chris Payne but that hardly affected the proceedings.
Mohun Bagan kept pushing and eventually doubled their lead in the 43rd minute when youngster Azharuddin Mallik chipped his shot into the back of the net from 30 yards out. Although his celebrations saw him get a yellow card, yet the goals charged the home side, and they kept pushing for more.
At half time, the scoreline read 2-0 in favour of Mohun Bagan.
Upon resumption, East Bengal managed to seize some of the initiative and Ivan Bukenya almost headed in a goal but goalkeeper Debjit Majumdar thwarted his efforts.
Contended with their lead, Bagan decided to shut shop and not take unwarranted risks.
This allowed East Bengal to dominate the midfield for a while, but a needless punch on Anas’s face by Willis Plaza saw him get a straight red card, taking the sting out of East Bengal's attack.
Soon after the game largely deteriorated as tackles flew in and tempers blew up. Both Gurwinder Singh and Chris Payne were cautioned.
However, Rowlin Borges got a goal back in the 92nd minute, but it went down the drain as by then the match was done and dusted.
Mohun Bagan gained 3 invaluable points and also managed a first win in Siliguri against their eternal rivals in years, something that sees them firmly reaffirm their title-winning credentials.
The result also drove the final nail in the coffin for any hopes the East Bengal supporters might have had of pocketing the I-League this year.
Hero of the match: Sony Norde
Feverpitch's Man of the Match: Sony Norde