A bizarre goalkeeping error and a wicked deflection brought to an end East Bengal's (EB) relentless resistance as ATK Mohun Bagan (ATKMB) registered a 2-0 victory in the first Kolkata Derby of the ISL 2022-23 season on Saturday, October 29.
Second-half goals from Hugo Boumous and Manvir Singh were enough to ultimately decide the much-anticipated fixture in front of a jam-packed Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata.
After two consecutive losses in their opening matches against Kerala Blasters FC and FC Goa, the Red and Gold Brigade roared back in their away clash against NorthEast United FC. They defeated the Highlanders 3-1 in what was one of their most comprehensive victories in the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Mariners came into the clash on the back of a comprehensive 5-2 victory over Kerala Blasters FC, with Dimitri Petratos bagging a clinical hat-trick. Given their record and form, ATKMB were favorites coming into the fixture and they started accordingly.
Juan Ferrando's men were on the front foot right from the get-go as they outplayed the Torchbearers in the middle of the park. Although Liston Colaco and Asish Rai started to create some trouble down the left flank, Stephen Constantine's side showed great defensive discipline.
After an initial onslaught from the Green and Maroon Brigade, East Bengal grew into the game and created the best opportunity of the half. In the 16th minute, Naorem Mahesh Singh darted down the left flank and whipped in a looping cross.
Although the ball was slightly behind, Semboi Haokip did brilliantly to get on top of it and direct it towards the bottom corner. But shot-stopper Vishal Kaith was up to the task and parried away the header.
Meanwhile, throughout the entirety of the first-half, it was Hugo Boumous who pulled the strings for ATKMB. Colaco also created a few moments of magnificence with his mazy runs but lacked the final product. Both sides went into the half-time break level on scores.
Kamaljit Singh turns into a pantomime villain for East Bengal as his error leads to ATK Mohun Bagan's first goal
Even in the second half, it was ATK Mohun Bagan who started brightly but East Bengal looked resolute in defense. Early on, the Mariners won a free-kick in the opposition half and Dimitri Petratos stood over it.
The Australian forward whipped in a loopy ball inside the box but Kamaljit Singh came to the rescue with a flying punch.
Kamaljit soon had the spotlight shone on him and the former Odisha FC custodian faultered, sinking the Red and Gold hearts. Boumous dropped deep to free himself from his marker and then skipped past a couple of defenders before unleashing a tame long-range effort.
However, the East Bengal shot-stopper, to the shock of everyone witnessing the affair, attempted an almost volleyball-esque scoop and punched it into his own net.
Although quite bizarre, the Green and Maroon Brigade broke the deadlock. The East Bengal heads were seemingly already dropping as their brilliant resistance went in vain.
Ten minutes later, in the 66th minute, ATKMB doubled their lead through Manvir Singh. The Indian forward received the ball on the edge of the opposition box and then drilled in a low shot. But the effort took a deflection off an EB defender and nestled into the net.
With a two-goal lead in the bag, ATK Mohun Bagan looked far more comfortable in possession as Stephen Constatine opted for some attacking changes to impact the game. The likes of Alex Lima, Eliandro, Aniket Jadhav, and Tuhin Das were brought on to give East Bengal a chance.
However, Ferrando's side held on for three full points, which now carries them into the fourth spot. The win also brings along a stream of relief for the Spanish coach.
The Red and Gold Brigade, on the other hand, are now in eighth position after the loss with just three points.