The first derby meeting of the season between the city giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan ended in an anticlimax as their Calcutta Football League premier division ‘A’ fixture ended in a goalless affair here at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday.
Watched by a near-capacity crowd, the two teams remained inseparable till the end with each missing some good scoring chances.
Mohun Bagan enjoyed a greater control over the action in the opening half and created enough chances but failed to convert them for the want of a positive finisher in its ranks. Much like its opponent, East Bengal, too, seemed to suffer cramps in the attack and had to be content with sharing points with its traditional rival.
Showing better organisation in the creative zone, Mohun Bagan made an impressive start, earning a free-kick near the East Bengal box in the second minute. The opportunity went begging as its Spanish defender Francisco Morante failed to connect a free header on the goalmouth.
Things hotted up in the second quarter as East Bengal launched some good counter offensives with its Spanish striker Marcos Jimenez taking the initiative. But with its finishing remaining a suspect, the goal remained elusive.
Mohun Bagan had the best opportunity in the 42nd minute when forward V. P. Suhair gained a free access in the box, thanks to a misunderstanding between the East Bengal central defenders Mehtab Singh and Spaniard Marti Crespi. Having the East Bengal goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ratle at his mercy, Suhair acted in haste and took a feeble attempt which the former had no problem in stopping.
Mohun Bagan’s new coach Kibu Vicuna preferred to put his best arsenal in the midfield and employed the Spanish pair of Joseba Beitia and Francisco Javier to good effect. The two lent fluidity to the Bagan attacks, with Beitia often moving up to assist Suhair in the striking zone. Suhair had another opportunity in the 58th minute off an Ashutosh Mehta assist but failed to utilise while blasting his attempt over the bar.
Majumder to the rescue
East Bengal took control over the situation after the hour mark and had almost secured the lead in the 64th minute but for the alertness of the Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Debjit Majumder, who made a fine effort to block the effort of Ronaldo Oliveira.
At the end of the match, East Bengal is fourth on the points table with seven points and Mohun Bagan is eighth in the standings with five points.
FINAL SCORE: East Bengal 0-0 Mohun Bagan.
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