Mohun Bagan-2, East Bengal-1
Siliguri: East Bengal’s title hopes seem to have all but ended courtesy Sony Norde and co. who put Mohun Bagan in pole position to chase Aizawl for the title.
Mohun Bagan ended their 743 day winless I-League Kolkata Derby record as they recorded a 2-1 victory over East Bengal at the Kanchenjuga Stadium in SIliguri on Sunday.
Two first half strikes from Sony Norde (35′) and Azharuddin Mullick (43′) were enough for the Mariners and Rowllin Borges’ late consolation goal (90+3′) was not enough to earn East Bengal a point.
Even before the referee signalled kick-off, both sets of fans cheered together, united under a single cause after learning Aizawl’s damning late 1-0 loss at Bengaluru. The result in the garden city meant that the I-League title race was still left wide open and both the Kolkata teams had an equal footing on the quest for silverware.
Mohun Bagan opted to field Katsumi Yusa in central midfield and made only a solitary change from last weekend’s game against Bengaluru with Souvik Chakraborty relegated to the bench. Balwant Singh started alongside Darryl Duffy up top as under 22 man Azharuddin Mallick was deployed on the right wing.
Trevor Morgan kept his favoured diamond formation at bay as he chose to go with a 4-2-3-1. Wedson Anselme was pushed to start after he had barely recovered from a groin injury. Chris Payne and Robin Singh were left on the bench, the latter nursing a groin strain of his own.
The first half battle looked like going East Bengal’s way when Anselme and Rowllin Borges were bossing the midfield; not allowing Yusa to see much of the ball. However, youngster Azharuddin was lively down the right, to take advantage of Robert Lalthlamuana’s defensive frailties as he beat him for pace and guile time and again.
Romeo Fernandes could do the same for his team as he exploited Bagan’s weak link Raju Gaikwad at left back. The Maharashtra born defender saw the first booking of the match during one of Romeo’s forays into the right channel early on in the first half