Salt Lake Stadium Erupts in 2-2 Derby Draw as East Bengal Show Grit and Flair
The 396th edition of the Kolkata Derby lived up to its billing, with electrifying action, passionate fans, and a dramatic 2-2 draw leaving both sides hungry for more.
Coach Cuadrat and his Red and gold brigade can hold their heads high, showcasing fighting spirit and tactical nous once again against Bagan.
From the outset, the Red & Gold Brigade displayed a ferocity that has been a signature of their character over the last few weeks.
Coach Carles Cuadrat’s intent was clear – dominate the early exchanges and dictate the tempo.
This aggressive approach paid off handsomely in the 3rd minute, with Ajay Chhetri finishing off a precise Nishu Kumar pass at the near post, sending the East Bengal faithful into a frenzy.
Shortly after though, Armando Sadiku mirrored Chhetri’s finish with a clinical touch off a Brendan Hamill cross, bringing Bagan back into the contest.
The remainder of the first half was a tense affair, with both teams battling for control. Bagan, spurred on by their support, gradually pressed forward, creating several promising opportunities.
The boys, however, defended resolutely, displaying commendable organization and discipline with Hijazi Maher once again leading the line admirably.
The intensity spilled over into the second half, with the referee forced to intervene on several occasions to cool tempers.
The turning point arrived in the 52nd minute as a penalty was awarded to East Bengal after Deepak Tangri appeared to have pushed Mahesh in the box.
Captain Cleiton Silva, celebrating his 37th birthday, stepped up with nerves of steel, chipping the ball down the middle to extend the lead.
However, the drama wasn’t over. In the 87th minute, a debatable challenge from Sahal Abdul Samad on Nandha led to the former setting up Petratos for the late equalizer that denied East Bengal the much deserved three points.
Despite late chances at both ends, the score remained unchanged, resulting in a hard fought draw. While the boys will be slightly disappointed to have let slip a goal lead twice, they can take heart from their spirited performance and tactical flexibility.
Speaking at the post match conference, Coach Cuadrat believed his team deserved to win the match and missed chances were what cost them all three points.
“We had some clear chances to win the game and we missed one very clear chance of Edwin (Vanspaul), alone against the goalkeeper.
And we missed 2-3, with one very clear chance for Nandhakumar (Sekar).
So I’m 100% sure that we deserved to win the game,” the boss remarked.
This derby wasn’t just about the result; it was a testament to the enduring passion of Kolkata football.
The deafening roar of the crowd, the vibrant displays of support, and the pulsating atmosphere all contributed to a truly unforgettable encounter.
As the dust settles, both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan can acknowledge the respect they earned from each other and their supporters.
For East Bengal, this draw marks another step forward in their resurgence under coach Cuadrat.
The Red & Gold Brigade will learn from this experience, build upon their strengths, as they head to Guwahati next for the reverse fixture against Northeast United FC.