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East Bengal draw with Mohun Bagan, clinch 8th straight Calcutta Football League

East Bengal came back twice against Mohun Bagan to retain the Kolkata League title by virtue of a better goal difference. Both teams ended season’s first Kolkata derby with 10 men

football Updated: Sep 24, 2017 20:29 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Siliguri
East Bengal F.C.‬,‪Mohun Bagan A.C.‬,‪Calcutta Football League‬
East Bengal’s Mahmud Al-Amnah (right) scored their equaliser against Mohun Bagan in the Calcutta Football League derby.(Facebook)

East Bengal retained the Calcutta Football League for a record eighth successive season coming back twice to hold Mohun Bagan 2-2 here on Sunday in the season’s first Kolkata derby which ended with both teams having 10 players on the pitch.

The Kolkata giants finished on 23 points from nine games each but East Bengal gave their fans an early Durga Puja gift by virtue of a better goal difference (+21 to +15). East Bengal central defender Gurwinder Singh is the only player who has been part of all eight campaigns.

This was the first time since East Bengal’s title in 1995 that the 119-year-old competition was decided by goal difference. This was East Bengal’s 39th league title.

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Early dominance from Bagan

A self-goal from Trinidad and Tobago defender Carlyle Mitchell gifted Mohun Bagan the lead in the fourth minute. East Bengal equalised through Laldanmawia Ralte, adjudged the match’s most valuable player, in the 43rd minute. Mohun Bagan went ahead when Mitchell felled Kamo Bayi and Ansumana Kromah converted the penalty in the 49thminute. East Bengal made it 2-2 after Mahmud Al-Amnah’s penalty sent Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Shilton Paul the wrong way in the 65th.

In the 82nd minute, Mohun Bagan skipper Kingshuk Debnath was shown the red card for a second booking; a foul on substitute Surabuddin Mullick after a cynical challenge on Willis Plaza had earned him the first caution. Debnath stayed on the pitch arguing with referee Ranjit Bakshi and was seen sarcastically applauding the decision. In the 86thminute, Surabuddin Mullick himself saw red after felling Chesterpoul Lyngdoh leading to a second booking. He had been on the pitch for all of eight minutes.

Buoyed by the early strike, Mohun Bagan used the width of the Kanchenjungha stadium pitch and could have scored again through Kamo Bayi inside the first quarter but his effort was deflected. Azharuddin Mullick too got into the heart of East Bengal’s defence but couldn’t make it count, his acrobatic shot lacking direction. Bayi also came close in the 34th minute but East Bengal goalkeeper Luis Barreto parried away his shot. It led to another corner-kick that Mohun Bagan wasted in the first half.

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Mohun Bagan also kept Al-Amnah quiet and that contributed to East Bengal looking ragged in the opposition half. The Syrian medio’s first notable contribution came in the 33rd minute but his shot was saved by Paul. Inside one minute, East Bengal had tested Mohun Bagan’s defence twice.

The next time that happened, East Bengal had equalised through a free-kick that had hours of practice stamped all over it. Gabriel Fernandes drove his free-kick wide and Lalramchullova followed it. By the time he had squared, Mohun Bagan’s defence was in total disarray and Ralte tapped home into an empty goal.

Between the second-half spot-kicks though it was Bayi who could have made it a memorable first Kolkata derby but shot wide following a Kromah flick. That was in the 51st minute. The only goal that happened thereafter was at the other end when Al-Amnah equalised in the 65th minute from a penalty awarded after young Raynier Fernandes’ hasty trip on Ralte.

It was enough for East Bengal to stay Calcutta Football League champions. It also meant that after winning the I-League for Aizawl FC, coach Khalid Jamil now has another title.

First Published: Sep 24, 2017 20:20 IST