Red and Gold Reign Supreme in pivotal derby clash, qualify for Super Cup semis

A pulsating Kalinga Super Cup encounter unfolded in Bhubaneswar on Friday evening, culminating in a 3-1 triumph for East Bengal over arch-rivals Mohun Bagan.

The victory secured not only a perfect group stage record with three wins and a commanding nine points, but also propelled the Red and Gold brigade into the tournament’s semifinals.

Cleiton Silva, the East Bengal captain, spearheaded the charge with a magnificent brace, while Nandhakumar Sekar’s opportunism contributed another crucial goal to the tally.

The Mariners, despite drawing first blood through Hector Yuste in the 19th minute, ultimately faltered in their bid to claim top spot in Group A.

The encounter crackled with the electric tension of a classic derby from the outset. Mohun Bagan, needing a win to progress, bombarded the East Bengal defence with purposeful passes and incisive through balls.

They stretched the Red and Gold backline by utilising the full width of the pitch, generating a flurry of attacks and set-pieces in the opening stages.

However, East Bengal, far from succumbing to the early pressure, displayed remarkable resilience and tactical discipline. Their response to Yuste’s opening goal was swift and decisive.

Just five minutes later, Silva capitalised on a chaotic situation outside the Bagan box, unleashing a powerful strike that left goalkeeper Arsh Anwer Shaikh helpless.

Both teams tried to wrestle the initiative with the score back to square one but neither side could take the lead until the dying moments of the first half when the opposition were awarded a penalty.

Petratos stepped up and converted from the spot or so it seemed, before the referee asked the Australian to retake his spot kick.

The Aussie missed the follow-up much to the joy of the thousands of Red and Gold Fans in the stands.

The second half saw a tactical chess match unfold, with Coach Cuadrat urging the boys to remain defensively compact whilst creating counter-attacking opportunities.

Sekar’s opportunistic strike in the 63rd minute, following Borja’s clever capitalisation of a defensive lapse by Mohun Bagan, proved to be the turning point.

Silva, showcasing his pure poacher’s instinct, sealed the victory in the dying minutes with his second goal in the 80th minute slotting home from close range after the opposition keeper fumbled the ball in front of goal.

Needing 3 goals to win and progress in very little time, the opposition caused no further threat as the boys cruised to a monumental derby win, their second of the season.

Speaking to the media after the game, Carles Cuadrat seemed extremely pleased with his team’s showing.

“I think we had one of our best games today. We knew where to find gaps in midfield and we used that space really well. To win big games, and to perform well under pressure, you have to find such space, and we did that well today.

Our players knew how important it was to win the battle of the midfield and they showed how good they were today,” said Cuadrat.

The triumph over their bitter rivals is a testament to the unwavering spirit of the Red and Gold army. Overcoming an early setback and navigating a tense tactical battle, East Bengal emerged victorious through a collective effort, tactical acumen, and unwavering belief.

As they march towards the semifinals, East Bengal can take immense pride in this victory. The Red and Gold Brigade will next go up against Jamshedpur FC, who are on a similar unbeaten run in the Kalinga Super Cup on Wednesday.

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