Monday, June 24, 2024

Bagan pip East Bengal in derby


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Kolkata: Mohun Bagan rode on Odafa Okolie’s strike from the penalty to pip East Bengal 1-0 in their round six I-League fixture at the floodlit Yuba Bharati Krirangan hereon Sunday.

Okolie fired in from the spot in the 22nd minute for the decisive goal in a match that had more than 85,000 frenzied supporters in attendance.

But in an embarrassment for the organisers, play had to be stopped for 18 minutes in the second-half with yet another power cut in the 1,20,000 capacity stadium, something that broke the tempo of the match. Mohun Bagan now have 15 points from six matches, while East Bengal remained on 10.

Playing without their inspirational playmaker Mehtab Hussain and in-form forward Tolgay Ozbey, East Bengal were better in ball possession in the first 45 minutes, but they lacked creativity to take an upper hand. Mohun Bagan, on the other hand, held their nerves, even as East Bengal resorted to physical attack that led to a penalty in the 20th minute. The burly East Bengal defender Uga Okpara brought down a surging Sunil Chhetri from behind inside the box and referee Pratap Singh awarded a penalty in favour of Mohun Bagan. Odafa converted from the spot, getting past Gurpreet Singh with a swift right-footer to give Mohun Bagan 1-0 lead. But Mohun Bagan failed to capitalise on the lead even as East Bengal intensified their attack especially after the changeover. Barreto shot one wide in a 27th minute attack, while Chhetri had a fine grounder but East Bengal managed to avoid the danger.

After the break, East Bengal looked more dangerous making further inroads to Mohun Bagan’s weak defence. But Sangram Mukherjee held his cool, thwarting the attempts made by Alan Gow and Sanju Pradhan. At a time, when Mohun Bagan forwards were not getting any supply from the midfield with East Bengal’s all-out attacking ploy, Chhetri in a rare supply from the midfield missed an open net in the 76th minute. But there was one, Sangram Mukherjee, who saved Mohun Bagan on more than one occasions, thwarting East Bengal’s attacks after the changeover. In the 72nd minute, Sangram made a fine save from Baljit Singh Sahni, while minutes later he once again looked resolute, thwarting a Robin Singh attack as he was adjudged man-of-the-match. (PTI)


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