Kolkata, Feb 6 (IBNS): Title aspirants East Bengal remained unbeaten after 1-1 draw with arch rivals Mohun Bagan in an action packed derby of the last match of the first leg of the I-League, at packed to the capacity Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Sunday.
The intense clash between the two arch rivals from Kolkata witnessed two red cards and 10 yellows.
Moun Bagan began with whirlwind fashion with a rocket right footer from Sur Kumar Singh within three mintues, but EB’s goalie Sandip Nandy was equally good to repel the attack.
But luck went in favour of East Bengal inside ten minutes when Sur Kumar Singh misjudged a shot from Sushil Singh and handled the ball inside the danger area.
Sanju Pradhan took the red and golds ahead with a 9th minute penalty shot, but they failed to hang on with the lead, which was equalised by Jose Ramirez Barreto’s header in the 29th minute of the game.
Tension gripped play ran up to ten minutes stoppage time due to freak tempers of the rival players.
East Bengal maintained their pole position with 31 points, three clear from second placed Salgaocar SC in the 14-team competition at the last match of the first leg’s 13 games.
Mohun Bagan stayed at 6th with 19 points.
East Bengal, reduced to 10-man at the 70th minute after Gurwinder Singh was red carded for tripping Barreto, but maintained supremacy of the play with speed and combined moves spearheaded by Ozbay Tolgay.
The Australian national, who so far scored nine goals, was, however, erratic at the shots and bungled at least three possible goal scoring chances. His 49th blunder was unpardonable with one-to-one situation with Bagan custodian Shilton Paul, much annoyed to coach James Trevor Morgan at the sidelines.
The red and golds also misjudged an opportunity in the stoppage time, and then Orji Penn’s solo effort got entangled but his support players were away from ball to shoot in the empty goal.
Mohun Bagan also truncated to ten-man just before the stoppage time play when substitute Ashim Biswas was shown locker room after stepping deliberately over EB’s medio Mehtab Hossain.
Around 90,000 spectators in the Sunday’s stadium remained cool and composed as rival players involved in pushing and pulling and at time Morgan was seen moved inside the ground to quell the tempers of the opponent players.
Tolgay was declared man of the match.
The Mariners aim of breaking East Bengal’s unbeaten streak failed in this crucial derby match.
However, Mohun Bagan defence were benefited from the latest joining of stars from Doha returnees like Surkumar Singh, Deepak Mandal, Anwar Ali and Mohanraj which brought stability to their porous defence.
After the match, there were reports of fighting outside the stadium between rival supporters and police used lathis to disperse them.
Police has also detained several people for rioting in the public, outside the stadium.