Kolkata, West Bengal: A brace by Hero of the Match Laldanmawia Ralte and striker Jobby Justin’s fifth goal in the 12th Hero I-League campaign helped Quess East Bengal (QEB) halt Mohun Bagan’s seven-game unbeaten run in the famous ‘Kolkata Derby played between the two Kolkata giants at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on Sunday.
Mohun Bagan scored twice through Azharuddin Mallick and Dipanda Dicka, but it was not enough in an exhilarating Derby which lived up to its high standards in front of 64,867 fans.
The win takes QEB up to fifth on the table with 12 points from seven games, while Mohun Bagan remain on eighth with nine points from as many games.
Red and Golds coach Alejandro Garcia made two changes to his starting line-up from the last game, one of them forced. Mexican Enrique Esqueda missed out due to injury and was replaced by Colombian recruit Jaime Santos Colado, while Costa Rican Jhonny Acosta regained his place in the eleven in place of Salam Ranjan Singh.
Coach Sankarlal Chakraborty made the exact same number of changes and ironically also was forced into replacing an injured Sony Norde with youngster Azharduddin Mallick, while Cameroonian striker Dipanda Dicka was back to lead the attack with Pintu Mahata also out injured.
QEB tried to dominate proceedings from the get-go with Jaimie Colado and Jobby Justin pleasing with their movements.
However, Mohun Bagan struck first on the 13th minute, when Egyptian midfielder Omar El Husseiny took out QEB right back Lalram Chullova with a neat body fient and cut inside the box from the left to unleash a pinpoint cross for Azhar to slot home.
QEB struck back within four minutes as left-back Manoj Mohammad sent a perfectly engineered cross towards Jobby, who beautifully played it through to Danmawia, who beat the offside trap and goalkeeper Shankar Roy in the Bagan goal.
Just before half-time, QEB took the lead, this time through a clinical back-volley finish by Jobby himself, with the same two teammates involved, only this time, Manoj’s cross from the left flank was laid off to Jobby’s path by Ralte.
Sankarlal had brought on Faiaz in place of Azhar, just before the break and Mohun Bagan began on the offensive in the second half looking for an equaliser, mainly through his runs down the right.
Then, around the 60-minute mark, Eze Kingsley, the Bagan centre-back, was sent off due to a second yellow card offence. From the resultant Lalrindika Ralte free-kick, Laldanmawia connected with his head and the ball came back to him off the Bagan defence. He made no mistake in the second attempt, this time his foot exactly in the right place to bulge the roof of the Bagan net. The Red and Golds were 3-1 up and Bagan a man down.
Credit needs to be given to Bagan for the way they mounted a fightback with 10 men after that, with most of the attacks being initiated by Arijit Bagui and Faiaz from the right flank.
In between, Jobby missed a sitter on a counter attack, but Bagan did manage a consolation goal for their efforts, when a Bagui cross in the 75th minute was cleared by Borja, but it only found its way till Dika on top of the box.
The Cameroonian striker unleashed a powerful half-volley which thundered into the QEB net, beating Rakshit Dagar all ends up.
Mohun Bagan continued to step up efforts to draw level, but East Bengal managed to hold on to their lead to pull off the victory.