East Bengal Club scored a 1-0 victory against archrivals Mohun Bagan AC through a world-class strike by Lalrindika Ralte in an I-League Round 10 match at the floodlit Saltlake Stadium on Sunday afternoon to give their new coach Armando Colaco a perfect start to his tenure.
With today’s three points, East Bengal moved to 10 points from six matches, while now behind them Mohun Bagan stay on 10 points from nine matches.
Before the start of the match it was clear that it would be a tactical encounter between the coaches with Karim Bencharifa taking on debutant Armando Colaco for the first-time in a Kolkata derby after these two have fought out numerous battles in Goa with Karim in charge of Churchill Brothers SC and Salgaocar FC against Armando’s Dempo SC.
Initially, East Bengal had more of the ball with the red-and-golds having more of the possession, while Karim’s Mohun Bagan were defending deep and relying on counter-attacks, but they initially had the best chance of the match as captain Odafe Onyeka Okolie send Eric Muranda free on the left, but his shot was palmed away by an inform Abhijit Mondal.
East Bengal had their problems in breaking down the Mohun Bagan defence, which was missing African Anyichie Echezona Celestine, but Rowilson Rodrigues played a strong first derby in his place. Towards the end of the first session East Bengal was causing more problems to Mohun Bagan. In the first instance Ryuji Sueoka is tripped by Rowilson but surprisingly Sueoka is yellow carded, while just before the break in the second instance Sueoka beats Rowilson and Aiborlang Khongjee, but keeper Shilton Pal’s leg denies the Japanese and East Bengal the lead. At the break it was goalless.
After the break the pattern of the match didn’t change as East Bengal continued to have more of the possession without really causing too many problems to Shilton Pal’s goal, who in the clearance against Sueoka had picked-up a knock. Once again Mohun Bagan had the better chance to Odafe, but his weak header went straight into the hands of Abhijit Mondal.
Then in the 73rd minute came the moment of brilliance of Lalrindika Ralte, who received a pass from Harmanjot Singh Khabra and fired a left-footed long-ranger from nearly 30 meters out which beat the outstretched hands of Shilton Pal. Dika ran towards the stands with the East Bengal supporters, taking his shirt off and receiving a yellow card for it but the young Mizo lad will cherish this match winning moment all his life.
Mohun Bagan didn’t have the ammunition to get back into the match and it ended 1-0 in favour for East Bengal, making it the perfect start for Armando Colaco in-charge of the red-and-gold brigade.
Mohun Bagan AC 0-1 (0-0) East Bengal Club – Goals: 0-1 Lalrindika Ralte (73′)
Mohun Bagan AC
Shilton Pal – Pritam Kotal, Rowilson Rodrigues (90+2′ Manish Bhargav), Aiborlang Khongjee, Shouvik Ghosh – C.S. Sabeeth (63′ Ram Malik), Kingshuk Debnath, Denson Devadas, Katsumi Yusa – Harrison Eric Muranda (83′ Shankar Oraon), Odafe Onyeka Okolie [C]
East Bengal Club
Abhijit Mondal – Thokchom Naoba Singh, Arnab Mondal, Uga Okpara, Saumik Dey – Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Cavin Peter Lobo (65′ James Moga), Mehtab Hossain [C] (73′ Shylo Malswam Tulunga), Lalrindika Ralte – Ryuji Sueoka (90+1′ Gurwinder Singh), Edeh Chidi
Pratap Singh (Services)