I-League: Mohun Bagan edges derby rival East Bengal in thriller

Nigerian defender Kingsley Obumneme rose high to head home the winner for Mohun Bagan from a Sonny Norde corner kick in the 38th minute in the Kolkata derby.

Mohun Bagan captain Sony Norde in action at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday.

Kingsley Eze nodded home a set-piece late in the first half to produce the only goal of the match that helped Mohun Bagan pull up a solitary goal win against traditional rival East Bengal in a I-League fixture here at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday.

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Watched by a near-capacity crowd of around 65,000, the match did not reach a high level of qualitative excellence but the Mohun Bagan fans went home happy winning the bragging rights of the Kolkata Derby that they will have till the two sides meet again in the second leg of the competition.

The last time the two met here (on January 23, 2016) the result was 1-1.

Kingsley, the Nigerian defender of Bagan who played a big role in neutralising the opposition attacks, showed the precise finishing the only time he went up to the opposition box. With his colleagues in attack finding it difficult to get themselves across the Bengal defence, a corner from the midfielder Sony Norde created the opening in the Bengal box allowing Kingsley to nod the ball home in the 39th minute.

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The Haiti-Cameroon- Liberia combination of Norde, Dipanda Dicka and Anusumana Kromah in the Bagan attack showed a better cohesion keeping the visitor's defence under pressure. Dicka almost got the ball home in the 15th minute with a snap half-volley from outside the Bengal box but the crossbar came to the latter’s rescue denying what could be an early lead for Bagan. Norde had the scoring opportunity in the 25th minute but he could not find the back of the net as the opposition goalkeeper Luis Barreto blocked the former’s attempt with his legs.

Brandon Vanlalremdika raised hopes in the Bengal camp moving up from the left to get on the end of a probing cross from Lalram Chullova in the 30th minute but the former missed the header - failing to get in line with the upcoming cross.

Dicka, who had to be stretchered out after suffering an injury in the 58th minute, had the chance to double the lead in the 41st minute but he could not muster the power and incisiveness in his shot to beat Barreto’s goal.

The Khalid Jamil coached side had the best chance of equalising in the 75th minute when its striker Willis Plaza powered into the Bagan box latching on to a pass coming from the centre. But the Trinidad and Tobago forward, who had the Bagan goalkeeper Shilton Paul at his mercy, delayed his attempt allowing defender Kinshuk Debnath to clear the ball.

Paul made a spectacular save flying to his left in the 80th minute when Laldanmawia Ralte fired a powerful half-volley looking for the equaliser. It was all over for East Bengal after that.

RESULT: Mohun Bagan 1 (Kingsley Eze) - 0 East Bengal

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