Laldanmawia skimmed past Abhishek Ambedkar on the right flank to leave the Mohun Bagan defender on the ground. By the time the ball was brought under control, the East Bengal forward had to beat the challenge of Dicka Dipanda in order to float a cross into the Bagan box.
Ambedkar got back to his feet, barged into the Mizo, and wrestled him to the ground. Dipanda appeared to have stamped the player’s foot while he lay on the ground.
The referee stopped the game. The East Bengal supporters bayed for blood. Mohun Bagan’s keeper Shilton Paul and East Bengal’s new signing Johnny Acosta jostled with each other as their team members rushed in to keep both players out of trouble.
The first Kolkata Derby of the season had reached a flash point.
A few minutes later, Shilton Paul was in the thick of the action again. A corner caught the Mohun Bagan custodian off-guard. Standing a few feet off his line, Paul dived back to parry a goal-bound delivery. Laldanmawia pounced on the rebound and the East Bengal supporters were the noisier bunch.
East Bengal 2 – Mohun Bagan 2 after 60 minutes at the Salt Lake Stadium.
It was a different story around the 30-minute mark when Henry Kissekka had put Mohun Bagan 2-0 up. Receiving the ball from Arijit Bagui, the Ugandan forward delivered unleashed a powerful shot to put the Mariners fans into a frenzy. Given the balance of play, the scoreline was justifiable.
Kissekka nearly scored in the 5th minute when he floated in a curling freekick and East Bengal’s ‘keeper, Rakshit Dagar, had to palm it away. The Bagan players had relentlessly chased the ball and forayed inside the opposition’s box and in the 20th minute, they got their reward when Pintu Mahanta found some space to convert a cross from the right. Bagui delivering the cross.
Kissekka had two chances to double the lead, before finally finding the back of the net. Johnny Acosta had been marshaling the East Bengal midfield but had little support in front of him.
The 4th official signaled 3 minutes of added time and the Costa Rican found himself making a bigger impact on the game. A floated ball from the right found Acosta in the crowd. His header was parried away by Paul and a hurried clearance hit Acosta on the chest and the ball looped into the net.
East Bengal 1 – Mohun Bagan 2 at halftime and the derby has turned on its head.
In a complete reversal of tactics, East Bengal did most of the attacking in the second half while Bagan chose to sit back and defend.
Joby Justin produced a fine run to produce a save off Shilton, while Dipanka could have put the game to bed but for his header to go wide.
In the end, the scoreline favored Mohun Bagan as both sides are level on 20 points, but the Mariner has a goal difference of +3 as against East Bengal’s +1.
There could be a glut of goals in the coming matches from both sides as they vie for the title that the two clubs have swapped between them since 1982.
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