ATK Mohun Bagan beat SC East Bengal 3-1 in the Kolkata Derby on Friday, with Roy Krishna playing a part in all three goals. The Mariners are now five points clear of second-placed Mumbai City FC, who have a game in hand.
Roy Krishna broke the deadlock in the 15th minute after latching on to a long pass from Tiri and calmly slotting the ball home. However, ATK Mohun Bagan's lead was wiped off in the 41st minute as Tiri scored an own goal after failing to clear Raju Gaikwad's long throw-in.
In the 72nd minute, Roy Krishna intercepted a loose pass before setting up David Williams, who unleashed a scorching strike to restore ATK Mohun Bagan's advantage. Javi Hernandez then scored the Mariners' third in the 89th minute after heading home Krishna's cross.
Roy Krishna is currently leading the ISL Golden Boot race with 14 goals to his name. He has scored more than half of the Mariners' goals this season. When asked if ATK Mohun Bagan are overdependent on him, head coach Antonio Lopez Habas replied:
"No. Today, we showed that Javi (Hernandez) and (David) Williams can also score. The player (Roy Krishna) now has lots of confidence. We are in the ascending line in three month."
When asked if the ATK Mohun Bagan players felt any pressure on the 100th anniversary of the Kolkata Derby, Habas said:
"We had to play the match as a normal match. We had to keep calm and control the emotions in the pitch. We changed the system today. We played 3-4-3. But we also scored the four goals (three goals and an own goal) in the match. But, our fundamental principle of playing is the same. We only change the system in high press, mid press, or low press. Depending on the outcome, we can change our system from one type to another."
"This match was for the supporters also" - Antonio Lopez Habas
The Kolkata Derby means a lot to the fans of both clubs. A league double over their arch-rivals SC East Bengal will certainly give ATK Mohun Bagan supporters a lot to cheer about.
"I want to congratulate the Mariners because it is a victory for them. This match was for the supporters also. For Covid, the situation is different. They can be sure that the team is there 100% for their colours and club," Habas said.
Barring Narayan Das, SC East Bengal fielded a completely revamped Indian contingent from the first Kolkata Derby encounter earlier in the season. Subrata Paul, Sarthak Golui, Raju Gaikwad, Sourav Das, and Ankit Mukherjee were all signed in January.
"I don't like to talk about the opponenent. I think too much about my team. But yes, I think they improved from the first half of the championship," Habas signed off.
ATK Mohun Bagan will next play Hyderabad FC on Monday. The Mariners played out a 1-1 draw with the Nizams in the corresponding fixture.