East Bengal FC defeated their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan Super Giants 1-0 in their Durand Cup 2023 match on Saturday, August 12.
The game was billed as a one-sided encounter. The squad the Mariners registered made it seem that it would be another walk in the park for Juan Ferrando's side.
The Red and Gold Brigade under Carles Cuadrat drew their opening game of the Durand Cup against Bangladesh Army XI. The Mariners had defeated the Bangladesh Army XI 5-0 in their opening game.
Cuadrat, though, in the pre-match press conference mentioned that his side would not accept defeat before the game and would fight for everything on the pitch.
The match started with Armando Sadiku's long-range effort in the second minute. The effort just went wide. East Bengal FC tried to attack through the left but weren't successful in the initial moments.
The Mariners used Manvir Singh in the right wing a lot to create openings, but failed to produce many clear-cut chances.
Naorem Mahesh Singh's cutback in the 18th minute found Javier Siverio, whose shot was blocked by Brendan Hamil to deny the Red and Gold Brigade their opening goal.
The game had its physical moments with both sets of midfielders committing fouls. The scoreboard at halftime read 0-0.
The second half started with both sides trying to get the upper hand. East Bengal FC finally broke the deadlock in the 60th minute when Nandhakumar received a pass from Saul Crespo. He went past Anirudh Thapa and cut inside the box from the right wing and curled the ball into the net.
The goal changed the complexion of the game but the Mohun Bagan Super Giants tried hard to score the equalizer. While the goal gave Carles Cuadrat's side a bit of breathing space, they organised their defense in a better manner.
East Bengal FC managed to hold on to their lead for the remaining duration of the game and won the season's first Kolkata Derby.
The scoreboard at full-time read 1-0 in favour of the Red and Gold Brigade. On that note, let's take a look at three things we learned from this game.
#3 East Bengal FC win a derby after 1,657 days
East Bengal FC last won the derby on 27th January 2019 in the I-League. Ever since East Bengal entered ISL and Mohun Bagan merged with ATK and formed ATK Mohun Bagan, the Mariners were on an eight-game derby winning streak.
The way the game was set up, it looked like Carles Cuadrat's men were heading for their ninth straight defeat in the derby.
What transpired on the pitch was a story of determination, resilience, and tactical brilliance by East Bengal.
Never during the entire duration of the game did the Red and Gold Brigade look like they were being outplayed. In fact, at times, it was Cuadrat's side who were asking all the questions of the mighty mariners.
If this result and performance are a yardstick to go by, then the Red and Gold fans can hope for better days in the upcoming season.
#2 East Bengal FC's team outplay Mohun Bagan Super Giants' individualism
East Bengal FC played like a team in this match. They worked as a unit and tactically outplayed the star-studded Mariners.
Mohun Bagan Super Giants looked like a side that relied heavily on individual brilliance rather than teamwork, and that is something that hurt them.
The Red and Gold Brigade's unity and the way they closed down the spaces was something that deserves praise. Also, the tactical acumen of Carles Cuadrat and Dimas Delgado outshone Juan Ferrando completely.
It looked like East Bengal had every answer to Mohun Bagan Super Giants' game plan.
The Mariners will need to find a way to get their star-studded players to fit into their system or else they will continue to suffer.
#1 Both sides have plenty to work on
Both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan Super Giants have plenty to work on. While the Mariners looked like a disjointed unit, the Red and Gold Brigade also looked far from the finished product.
Carles Cuadrat's men made a lot of unforced errors while Juan's side failed to build up proper attacks.
Overall, both sides have a lot to work on before the start of the ISL season. Mohun Bagan Super Giants also need to improve their game before their AFC Cup qualifying game on the 16th of this month.
East Bengal, though, will be happy with the progress they made compared to the last game and will hope they keep improving with every passing game.