ATK Mohun Bagan extends the winning streak in Kolkata Derby with another 2-0 victory
ATK Mohun Bagan further extended their winning streak in Kolkata Derby, as they handed East Bengal a 2-0 defeat in their final league stage match of the 2022-23 Indian Super League season at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium. Slavko Damjanovic and Dimitri Petratos scored the two goals for the Mariners.
East Bengal came into this match with sky-high confidence, as in their last match, Stephen Constantine’s men got the better of the League Winners’ Shield-winning team, Mumbai City. Hence, the British tactician did not make any changes to his starting XI.
On the other hand, ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando rested a couple of key players, given that their place in the playoffs was already secured. Brandon Hamill and Carl McHugh were given a day off, with Damjanovic and Federico Gallego replacing them.
As expected, ATK Mohun Bagan had the better start and their first chance arrived in just the 5th minute. Petratos’ corner was cleared by one of Constantine’s defenders, but the rebound fell to Pritam Kotal, who could not keep his shot on target.
East Bengal had to wait 17 minutes for their first major chance, but they could not utilize it. Mobashir Rahman found VP Suhair inside the box with a precise pass, but the winger slipped just as he was getting ready to pull the trigger.
The next few minutes saw both teams struggling to make in-roads in the opposition’s half until the Mariners almost scored in the 34th minute. After receiving a pass from Hugo Boumous, right-back Asish Rai went from glory from distance and caught the Torchbearers’ backline by surprise, but thankfully for them, goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh was alert as he made a good save.
The first half did not produce any noteworthy moments, except when the two sets of players got into a scuffle. The second half followed the same theme with the Mariners dominating possession, and the deadlock was almost broken in the 52nd minute.
Gallego was involved in the move as he wriggled his way past a couple of East Bengal defenders before finding Ashique Kuruniyan, who then played a defense-splitting through ball for Petratos. The Aussie striker did well to guide his shot past a charging Kamaljit, but luck was not on his side as the ball struck the woodwork and stayed out.
Chances were few and far in between for the Torchbearers, but they did have a good opportunity in the 61st minute. After receiving an accurate pass from Naorem Mahesh Singh, Cleiton Silva found his strike partner Jake Jervis in a dangerous position, but the English striker could not keep his shot on target.
It turned out to be a decisive moment in the game as the deadlock was finally broken by the Mariners just seven minutes later. Petratos found Damjanovic with his corner, but the Montenegrin defender could not get the desired connection on his header. But this time, luck did favour Ferrando’s team as the ball struck the crossbar and returned to the central defender’s feet, who had the simplest of tasks of tucking it into an empty net.
The next few minutes saw East Bengal throwing the kitchen sink at the Mariners, but none of Constantine’s plans produced the desired effect. Substitutes Sumeet Passi and Mohamad Rakip struggled to have any impact whatsoever, while on the left flank, Mahesh and Jerry Lalrinzuala did find themselves in space on multiple occasions but could not utilize it.
Mariners had the last laugh, as they scored yet again in the 90th minute of the match. Puitea played a superb through-ball for last season‘s Derby hero, Kiyan Nassiri, who did well to keep his shot on target. Kamaljit did well to put in a brilliant save, but the rebound fell for Petratos who did well to push the ball into the back of the net, past the diving East Bengal custodian.
With this win, ATK Mohun Bagan finished their league campaign in third position, having 34 points from 20 matches. They will face Odisha in the knockouts unless Kerala Blasters defeat Hyderabad by a massive margin of six goals in their last league game, while for East Bengal, it was the end of the road. They finished in tenth place with just 19 points from 20 matches.