Kolkata, December 3: Mohun Bagan rode on a header by their Nigerian central defender Eze Kingsley to down East Bengal 1-0 in the first I-League derby of the season at a packed Salt Lake Stadium here on Sunday (December 3).
Kingsley scored off a low but powerful header from a Sony Norde corner to help Mohun Bagan break the deadlock in the 39th minute.
Their defence, led by goalkeeper Shilton Paul, held on to the slender lead on a day Norde and Ansumana Kromah failed to make use of the many opportunities.
It wasn't a day to remember for the Khalid Jamil-coached East Bengal as their striker Willis Plaza was off target and missed a few chances. Plaza shot wide in the 85th minute, coming closest to find the equaliser for the Red and Golds.
Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Shilton also pulled off a couple of saves in the last 10 minutes of the game. With 10 minutes left, it was almost 1-1 when Laldanmawia Ralte cut in from the left and curled one in from 10 yards away. But a cool-headed Paul showed fine anticipation as he leaped high in the air and palmed away the danger.
Earlier, Norde beautifully curved in a corner and landed clear of the defence. Kingsley was lurking at far right and capitalised on the low ball after it bounced off the pitch to find the back of the net.
Gurwinder Singh has to take the blame for that goal. Kept quarreling with the ref, didn't get goalside of his man and protect the keeper, got attracted to the ball and didn't cover the far post. #KolkataDerby #MBvKEB @ILeagueOfficial @fni pic.twitter.com/ZxErrDB5cC— Sandeep Menon (@ImTheMenon) December 3, 2017
Moments later, Aser Pierrick Dipanda surged in from the right, clearing the defence as he had time to put it past East Bengal goalkeeper Luis Barreto.
But Dipanda shot straight to Barreto in what could have been a fine double for the pumped-up Mohun Bagan before the break.
Mohun Bagan had their best chance in the 32minute from a powerful Kingsley header that was thwarted by Barreto and the farpost also came in way of them.
The danger was still not averted as Yuta Kinowaki found the ball in a goalmouth melee, but the Japanese midfielder failed to clear the East Bengal defence.
As Mohun Bagan dominated the first half, East Bengal too had their share of chances and looked to score in the 30th minute when Brandon Vanlalremdika attacked from the right flank to set up Willis Plaza. But the Trinidadian failed to connect, much to Mohun Bagan defence's relief.
Bagan and East Bengal came into the game with one point each. Bagan were held 1-1 at Minerva Punjab, while East Bengal drew 2-2 with defending champions Aizawl FC.
Battling a step-motherly treatment to the Indian Super League, the season's first derby also made a big statement with an overwhelming attendance of 64,630 despite a 2pm kickoff.