East Bengal returned to winning ways by edging past bitter foes Mohun Bagan 3-2 in a thrilling I-League derby in Kolkata on Sunday. Mohun Bagan came into the tie unbeaten in the last seven derby matches and took the lead through Azharuddin Mallick in the 13th minute but things turned sour after the break when they were reduced to 10 players after Kingsley Eze was red-carded (59th).
East Bengal snatched the lead with Landanmawia Ralte (17th, 61st) and Jobby Justin (44th) helping the ‘home team’ put it across their traditional rivals and make it two wins out of two. Mohun Bagan pulled one back through Dipanda Dicka (75th) but it proved to be a consolation strike in the end.
East Bengal, who had beaten Gokulam Kerala FC 3-1 in their previous tie here after a string of three defeats, moved to fifth spot in the points table with 12 points from seven games.
Mohun Bagan, meanwhile, remained eighth having nine points from seven outings and have now failed to win in their last three matches. East Bengal were the brighter of the two teams in the opening exchanges but to the home supporters’ dismay, Mohun Bagan nosed ahead.
Egyptian midfielder Omar Elhussieny dribbled past East Bengal’s Lalram Chullova after a sharp turn on the left wing to cross for Azharuddin Mallick who had to tap in with the goalkeeper at his mercy. Within the space of four minutes, the red and golds returned the favour with Justin teeing up Landanmawia inside the box and the latter slotting home from close.
Mohun Bagan coach Sankarlal Chakraborty took off goal-scorer Azharuddin in the 41st minute for Sheikh Faiaz before East Bengal made it 2-1 three minutes later, courtesy a spectacular side-volley from Justin off a Laldanmawia layoff.
The visitors were dealt a double blow after the break as Eze was given the marching orders for fouling Justin in the 59th minute as Landanmawia made it 3-1 in favour of East Bengal two minutes later from Lalrindika’s free kick.
There was a glimmer of hope for Mohun Bagan faithfuls in the last fifteen minutes after Dicka powered a thunderous pile driver from the edge of the box to make it 3-2 as East Bengal defenders failed to clear the ball from a Arijit Bagui cross.
In the last few minutes, Justin could have added gloss to the scoreline but failed to convert from a one-on-one situation as Mohun Bagan goalie Sankar Roy made a diving save
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