It was the season’s first derby and the atmosphere at the Salt Lake Stadium was electric. East Bengal had been slow off the blocks in the Calcutta Football League (CFL) this term, but they came roaring back to form when it mattered most. A memorable, 3-1 victory over Mohun Bagan was achieved without breaking much sweat. They were far better technically and tactically than their arch-rivals.
This was a clash between the modern and conventional styles. East Bengal’s modern outlook towards football is a gift from their former coach Trevor Morgan. He rebuilt the team during his three-year stint and now Armando Colaco is reaping the benefits. To Colaco’s credit, it must be said, he completely outwitted his Bagan counterpart Subhas Bhowmick on Sunday.
East Bengal’s star recruit Ranty Martins had a very good game. The Nigerian tormented his compatriot Alao Adisa Fatai, scored twice and wasted another couple to miss out on a hat-trick. Fatai, on the other hand, had a forgettable CFL debut. Bagan were one-dimensional in their approach, working down the left through Katsumi Yusa and belting in crosses into the area, more in hope than conviction.
The first goal came on 11 minutes when Kevin Lobo skipped past a couple of defenders and was poleaxed by Fatai inside the area. The penalty was awarded, and East Bengal and Martins were off the mark. The green-and-maroons equalised nine minutes later as ‘keeper Abhijit Mondal completely misjudged a Satish Singh cross from the right and presented CS Sabeeth with a simple tap-in opportunity.
East Bengal had a free-kick, two minutes before the half time, following a stupid challenge from Fatai on Martins. Joaquim Abranches’s 25-yard drive deflected off the Bagan defender into the net. An unmarked Martins punished Bagan again, a couple of minutes after the break, as he headed home from eight yards. Abranches was the provider.