Super Petratos goal fetches Mohun Bagan Durand Cup
The match’s only goal came after the winners were down to 10 following Anirudh Thapa’s red card
A moment of brilliance from Dimitri Petratos fetched Mohun Bagan Super Giant, down to 10 from the 61st minute, the 132nd Durand Cup. This was the first time since 2000 that Mohun Bagan, then without any suffix after a brief tryst with ATK as prefix, have won this competition having lost two finals in 2009 and 2019.
With 12 goals and seven assists, Petratos, part of the Australia 2018 World Cup squad, had played a starring role in helping Mohun Bagan win the Indian Super League earlier this year. From almost the corner from where Nandhakumar Sekar had scored to end East Bengal’s four-year quest for a win against their archrivals in the group stage, Petratos pulled the trigger in the 71st minute after cutting in. And for the second time in as many derbies, it was a left-footer that made the difference. It fetched Mohun Bagan their 17th Durand Cup.
Petratos had fired a right-foot screamer to end the first half that climbed and swerved away from Prabsukhan Gill’s goal. So, for the goal he opted for a low drive after running nearly the length of the East Bengal half till the edge of the 18-yard box. East Bengal dropping too deep gave him the time and space to tee up a shot, their defensive blemish heightened by one player turning away as Petratos fired. Through a thicket of legs, the shot arrowed into the far corner, possibly taking a deflection en route. In a flash, Petratos had leapt over the hoardings towards the crowd.
Tension hanging heavy on the humid evening, the game began and continued on a slow burn. Fury replacing flair meant overcooked deliveries and argument with referees were leitmotifs at a Salt Lake stadium packed with almost 60,000 here on Sunday.
The first half ended with a flurry of yellow cards with Saul Crespo, Borja Herrera and Mohun Bagan’s Hugo Boumous being booked. Early in the second, East Bengal coach Carles Cuadrat was shown yellow for gesticulating at Armando Sadiku and then Anirudh Thapa was shown red.
Going for a ball that bounced awkwardly, Thapa was booked for dangerous play after his boot hit Javier Siverio. He was on a yellow for a tackle on Siverio in the first half and now Mohun Bagan had to recalibrate.
Coach Juan Ferrando rang in a triple change in the 68th minute getting Glan Martins to take Thapa’s place in midfield and sacrificing Boumous, the team’s creative fulcrum who couldn’t direct a stab towards goal after Manvir Singh had found him. Also introduced were Liston Colaco and Jason Cummings, who played for Australia in the 2022 World Cup.
Such is Mohun Bagan’s strength in depth. East Bengal are not even close so they tried staying compact in the defence while looking to use the pace of Nandhakumar and Mahesh Naorem. Like with Mohun Bagan’s wide players, the quality of their deliveries left a lot to be desired.
East Bengal’s inability to get players in the box meant Siverio was often alone. Vishal Kaith was not really tested, barring a momentary lapse of reason from the otherwise impressive Anwar Ali which forced him to leave his line to clear the back pass.
Sekar tried a repeat of what he had pulled off with aplomb on August 12 against Mohun Bagan but this time, it flew over Kaith’s goal. He also had a header that didn’t bother Kaith as East Bengal failed to exploit numerical superiority for 38 minutes, nine minutes of stoppage time included.
Mohun Bagan, playing their eighth game in all competitions in one month, had one shot on target. Thapa and Sahal Abdul Samad as midfield pivots continue to be a work in progress. Barring once when he found Ashish Rai with a raking pass, Thapa again had to sacrifice his attacking instincts. Mohun Bagan haven’t yet missed that but it could be a worry for Thapa and, of course, India.
All stuff for debate and discussion for another day. Stuff that is meant to be worked on in pre-season tournaments such as this, Ferrando has said. The way Mohun Bagan’s Spanish coach jumped into Sadiku’s arms, three yellow cards each for the teams and a red, fans in one half the cauldron celebrating and the other emptying in a flash, it certainly felt more than just a pre-season tournament.