Torch Bearers leave derby with heads held high

In a highly anticipated clash that brought the city to a standstill, East Bengal faced their eternal rivals Mohun Bagan in the latest chapter of the Kolkata Derby in what would be the final derby of the season. With Mohun Bagan fighting for the shield and the Red and Gold Brigade looking to make the playoffs, the stakes were high from the get go.

The first half set the tone for what was to be a thrilling encounter. East Bengal, in their traditional red and gold, started the match on the front foot, pressing high and creating several chances. The early pressure, however, did not translate into goals, with Kaith’s penalty save turning the momentum Bagan’s way. Jason Cummings capitalised on a rebound off the East Bengal goalkeeper in the 27th minute, putting the Mariners ahead much to the agony of the East Bengal faithful.

The goal galvanised Mohun Bagan, who doubled their lead in the 36th minute through Liston Colaco, following a play that saw Dimitri Petratos’ initial strike ricochet off the post straight back to him, before skillfully setting up Colaco for the second goal. The first half concluded with Petratos himself converting a penalty in stoppage time, giving Mohun Bagan a comfortable 3-0 lead.

Despite the setback, East Bengal’s spirit remained unbroken and with Coach Cuadrat ringing in the changes at half time introducing the likes of Vishnu and Sayan, East Bengal emerged with renewed vigor. Cleiton Silva, in a brilliant display of leadership and skill, orchestrated a comeback with a sublime cross to Saul Crespo, who found the back of the net and ignited hopes of a revival.

The partnership between Silva and Crespo aided by smart runs from Vishnu and Sayan became a source of constant threat to Mohun Bagan’s defense, with East Bengal coming tantalisingly close to levelling the scoreline on several occasions. A controversial moment arose when a penalty appeal was denied late in the second half, adding to the drama that the Kolkata Derby is renowned for.

Ultimately, the match concluded with a 3-1 scoreline in favor of Mohun Bagan. However, the result does not diminish the valiant effort put forth by East Bengal. The Torch Bearers displayed commendable tenacity and a never-say-die attitude that resonated with the fans and exemplified the true spirit of the beautiful game.

“I’m very proud.. of how the players have been going for the game (to make a comeback) in the second half. I think that they showed what the greater goal means for them because they have been fighting like crazy. I think if we scored the second goal, we would have put them in trouble. We created very clear chances – the heading of Cleiton.. also the penalty to Vishnu, a lot of things which could (have) been (the) second goal. Anything could have happened,” Coach Cuadrat said in the post-match press conference.

As the team regroups going into the international break and looks ahead, the focus remains on building upon this performance and continuing to fight with the same passion and determination that has always defined East Bengal.