Kolkata painted in ‘Green and Maroon’ as dominant ATK Mohun Bagan brush aside East Bengal
Roy Krishna and Manvir Singh handed the Mariners an early lead of 2 goals with Liston Colaco joining them on the scoresheet later in the one-sided match.
East Bengal manager Manolo Diaz tweaked his formation from the 1-1 draw against Jamshedpur as he started with a 3-man backline featuring Tomislav Mrcela, Franjo Prce, and Raju Gaikwad. Bikash Jairu and Joyner Lourenco were deployed at either flank, while young striker Naorem Mahesh Singh made his debut for the Red and Golds, partnering Antonio Perosevic up top. In a bid to stabilize his midfield, Diaz also fielded Dutch midfielder Darren Sidoel in the middle of the park.
Meanwhile, ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Antonio Lopez Habas went with an unchanged lineup that featured in the 4-2 win against Kerala Blasters. Joni Kauko was awarded a promotion as he joined the attacking duo of Krishna and Manvir with Liston Colaco handed more defensive duties by the Spaniard.
The Red and Golds started the game with real intent and were fluid in their passing, but structural problems in defense saw Habas’ men take an early lead. A quick counter-attack saw Manvir calmly placing a ball out wide for Pritam Kotal who came up with a great cross for Krishna and the striker did brilliantly to place his shot past the diving Arindam Bhattacharja.
The Mariners did not allow Diaz’s men to react doubling their lead only a couple of minutes later as Finnish midfielder Kauko played a perfect through ball for Manvir who rifled the ball past Bhattacharja with a powerful effort on the near post. The move highlighted a lack of communication between the East Bengal defenders as Manvir was allowed to glide into the penalty box with great ease.
The third goal came from a wayward ball from Hugo Boumous Bhattacharya failed to gather the through ball which he should have without breaking a sweat making an absolute mess of it and left an entire goal gaping for Colaco. The former Hyderabad forward couldn’t have received a better gift on his Kolkata Derby debut as he had no problems whatsoever in slotting it in the back of the net.
The former Mariners custodian also injured himself in the process and was replaced by Suvam Sen a few minutes later while Amarjit Singh Kiyam replaced the booked Lalrinliana Hnmate in the middle of the park. The Mariners kept pressurizing the East Bengal defense as Subhasish Bose’s perfectly weighted cross found Krishna in the box but Amarjit was alert to the danger and ensured that the Fijian did not get his shot away.
The former Real Madrid Castilla manager made further changes to his formation at halftime as he introduced Slovenian midfielder Amir Dervisevic to replace Mrcela. Despite playing all of his cards, Diaz could not get the desired results as Habas’ men had the game under total control. Manvir could have scored his second in the 49th minute when he rounded off an onrushing Sen but the weight on the ball took it out of play.
It was then Krishna’s turn to let go of the chance of scoring a brace as Sen put in a fearless dive to stop the Fijian from pulling the trigger. As a last throw of the dice, Diaz brought in striker Daniel Chima at the hour mark, but the Nigerian hardly made any impact in the last thirty minutes of the game.
Perosevic created a handful of chances in the second half including a dangerous whipped ball for Chima who failed to find the back of the net from a close distance. Thankfully, the former Molde marksman was rightfully ruled offside by the assistant referee saving his blushes.
This defeat will be a major blow to East Bengal’s morale this season making it an uphill battle for Diaz to lift the spirits in the dressing room in a quick time span as they face Odisha on Tuesday.
On the other hand, the Mariners will be buzzing with confidence prior to taking on the reigning champions Mumbai City on Wednesday in one of the most crucial clashes of the season.