Mohun Bagan scored twice in the opening half to beat traditional rival East Bengal 2-1 in an I-League encounter here at the Kanchenjungha Stadium on Sunday. Sony Norde and Azharuddin Mallick found the target once each for Mohun Bagan while Rowling Borges pulled one back for East Bengal in the additional time of the second half. East Bengal played the last 24 minutes with 10 men after his its striker Willis Plaza was given marching orders in the 66th minute.
The win took Mohun Bagan to 29 points from 14 outings while putting it in a position to overtake the current league leader Aizawl FC, which is on 30 points from 15 matches. For East Bengal, it was the third successive loss, which pushed its title dreams to a distance.
Sony Norde emerged the decisive factor in the first half and also the match as the Haitian World Cupper created a host of chances for the home side after scoring the lead on his own. There first quarter of the action was stung by inertia as both the opponents sought to play it safe focusing more in the middle of the park. But Bagan took the initiative after the half-hour mark as Nordy started finding the attack route more frequently in his zone – the left wing.
Mohun Bagan earned the lead in the 35th minute off a free-kick that was converted in a copy-book style by Norde. The situation emerged after the Haitian play-maker was fouled around 10 yards outside the by box by the East Bengal defender Gurwinder Singh. Nordy walked up to take the free-kick and found the far angle of the goal with a swerving shot that kept the East Bengal goalkeeper T.P. Rehenesh rooted in his place. The goal perked up Mohun Bagan while East Bengal seemed to retreat into a shell stung by the reverse.
Having suffered successive defeats in the previous two rounds, East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan tried to plug the cramps in the attack introducing the Wedson Anselme in the middle. But the Haitian midfielder, returning after an injury lay-off of five weeks, failed to work up the creativity that was brought about by his compatriot, Norde, in the opposition half. Just when East Bengal was trying to regroup after the first blow, Rehenesh repeated another goalkeeping error that had seen his team suffering the previous two rounds. Azharuddin Mondal found the net off a long ranger as he located Rehenesh stranded midway having relinquished his guard under the bar.
The 43rd minute goal virtually sealed the fate of the match as East Bengal never looked in a position to turn back after the break. East Bengal’s chances of a comeback was further dampened after its attack spearhead Plaza was shown the red card in the 66th minute for a violent push on Mohun Bagan defender E. Anas’ face in sheer frustration.
The result: Mohun Bagan 2 (Sony Norde 35, A Azharuddin Mondal 43) bt East Bengal 1 (Rowlin Borges 90+2).
Man of the match: Sony Norde.
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