Mohun Bagan Super Giant roar to the top of the table with a 3-1 win over East Bengal in the Kolkata Derby

unnamed   2024 03 12T161313.798
Dimitri Petratos of Mohun Bagan Super Giant celebrates after giving his side a three-goal lead

Mohun Bagan Super Giant climbed to the top of the table with a 3-1 win over their arch-rivals East Bengal in the ISL 2023-24 Kolkata Derby at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. Dimitri Petratos bagged two assists and scored a penalty in the first half to emerge as the difference between the two sides. 

Mohun Bagan Super Giant head coach Antonio Lopez Habas made only one change to the side that defeated Jamshedpur 3-0 in their last fixture. Sahal Abdul Samad replaced Deepak Tangri as the Mariners made their attacking intentions clear with the starting line-up.

East Bengal made two changes to the side that lost 1-0 to Goa in their previous fixture. Ajay Chhetri replaced Victor Vazquez while Saul Crespo returned from injury and replaced Vishnu PV. 

MBSG got their first chance of the contest in the second minute as Chhetri brought down Liston Colaco at the edge of the box. Dimitri Petratos curled his free-kick towards the far end and Anwar Ali headed it towards Hector Yuste who struck the woodwork on the rebound but the referee raised his flag as Ali was found in an offside position. 

The tempo in the early exchanges looked simple – East Bengal tried to build from the back while the Mariners attempted to break through on the counter with a high press. Saul made a dazzling run through the middle in the 5th minute towards the box but Sahal and Ali tracked back and won back possession from him. 

Two minutes later, Petratos was once again in the thick of things with his cross from the edge of the box finding Jason Cummings. The Australian battled for space with Hijazi Maher and Nishu Kumar and connected his header but failed to keep it on target while backtracking. 

East Bengal won a penalty in the 12th minute but failed to make it count. Subhasish Bose’s clearance found Souvik Chakrabarti on the right side of the pitch. The latter made a cross towards the middle and Cleiton Silva surged past his marker Yuste to get a touch on it. 

However, Vishal Kaith came flying out of his line and punched him in the face, missing the ball completely and earning a yellow card from the referee. Cleiton drilled his shot low and hard to the goalkeeper’s left but Kaith guessed the trajectory correctly and fisted the ball away. 

In the 16th minute, Chhetri made a rash tackle on Manvir Singh and went into the referee’s book. The high-octane clash between the two sides saw tackles flying from both ends to stop the attack in the middle of the pitch. 

In the 25th minute, Lalchungnunga played a brilliant one-two pass with Naorem Mahesh Singh and dashed into the box. But, his heavy touch took the ball out of play. One minute later, Petratos tried to cut through from the left wing but Aleksander Pantic’s sliding tackle thwarted the danger. 

The Mariners’ efforts finally bore fruit in the 27th minute with Cummings netting the goal. Joni Kauko aimed for glory from a distance but Nishu Kumar headed it away. The rebound fell towards Sahal who tried to squeeze past Maher and Chhetri. 

The East Bengal defenders dispossessed him but were able to clear it only as far as Petratos at the edge of the box. Prabhsukhan Gill punched away Petratos’ first-time shot but Cummings capitalised on the rebound by tapping it home from close range after getting the better of Pantic. 

The Red and Golds tried to surge forward through a counter-attack in the 36th minute and Chhetri found the ball at his feet inside the box. However, his efforts to dribble past Sahal went in vain as the Indian international tracked back all the way and reclaimed the possession for his side.

The Mariners doubled their lead from the resulting counter-attack with Colaco scoring the goal this time. Petratos made space for himself at the right side of the box and struck the woodwork from a tight angle. The entire East Bengal defense turned themselves off and Colaco positioned himself between Pantic and Lalchungnunga from a hand-shaking distance at goal. Petratos fed the pass towards the goalscorer and Colaco tapped it home. 

In the first minute of additional time, Sahal tried to find Liston inside the box but Nandhakumar Sekar clipped him. The referee pointed towards the spot and Petratos who notched two assists for his side earlier in the match, stepped up to take it. The Aussie made no mistake in bulging the net to make it 3-0 for his side.

Mohun Bagan started the second half from where they left with Cummings firing a warning shot in the early minutes of the second half from inside the box after trapping a cross from Kauko. But, Prabhsukhan was up to the task of palming away the danger.  

Saul Crespo of East Bengal celebrates after scoring a goal against MBSG

East Bengal came out in the second half with more attacking intent and finally scored a goal in the 53rd minute through Saul. None of the MBSG defenders closed down Silva and the Brazilian chipped a pass towards the middle of the box where Crespo controlled the ball with his chest on the first touch and buried the ball past the goalkeeper with his second touch, leaving his marker Bose dumbfounded. 

The Red and Golds nearly pulled one more goal back in the 63rd minute. Nandhakumar’s cross from the right flank found Cleiton inside the box and the Brazilian lept high to connect the ball with his head. Kaith dived low to his left and produced a save from point-blank range. 

Nandhakumar made a looping cross towards the middle in the 69th minute but this time Cleiton’s shot was wayward. Substitute Vishnu tried to find the net with an overhead kick but the ball settled in the roof of the net. 

In the first minute of added time, substitute Anirudh Thapa broke free on the counter-attack but rather than taking a shot, he decided to feed a pass towards Petratos. The linesman raised his flag as Mohun Bagan squandered an opportunity late in the game. 

In what looked like a penalty in the replays, the referee booked substitute Vishnu for a dive inside the box in the fourth minute of added time. The youngster nutmegged Bose on the right flank and dribbled past Sahal and the latter stretched his foot to bring Vishnu down inside the box but the referee dished out a yellow card to the East Bengal player. 

This was East Bengal’s third consecutive loss and the Red and Gold Brigade is now positioned 10th in the points table with 18 points from 19 matches and only above Chennaiyin and Hyderabad. Only three points separate them and Jamshedpur who are positioned sixth in the table as their hopes of qualifying for the playoffs hang in the balance. They have a three-week break before taking on Kerala Blasters away from home. 

Coming to Mohun Bagan Super Giant who climbed to the pole position, they will face off against Kerala Blasters in a must-win encounter this Wednesday. Their final league encounter against Mumbai City will be crucial to determine the fate of the league as both sides have 36 points in their bag.