Kolkata, Sep 3: Dimitri Petratos scored the lone goal of the match as Mohun Bagan Super Giant defeated cross-town rivals East Bengal to be crowned champions of the 132nd Durand Cup football tournament here on Sunday.
On a Super Sunday for India’s oldest football competition, Mohun Bagan, despite being reduced to 10 men, avenged their defeat from the group stage against Emami East Bengal (EEB), winning the Kolkata derby 1-0 in the final.
Petratos struck the winner in the 71st minute after Anirudh Thapa was sent off for a second bookable offence, early in the second half.
There was nothing much to choose between the two sides save the Petratos strike, in an entertaining final at the hallowed Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK), here in the city, which had close to 50,000 fans watching.
A tactical game
Both managers sprung surprises with the first eleven. Carles Cuadrat of EEB gave Md. Rakip was given a start for the first time in the tournament, while Juan Ferrando of MBSG kept Manvir, who has had a good campaign, on the bench, while starting with both his foreign forwards, Dimitri Petratos and Armando Sadiku.
Ashique won the game’s first corner for MBSG within the first five minutes, however not much came off it. A similar fate awaited EEB when they got theirs a few minutes later. There was nothing to choose between the two in the first quarter of an hour. Left was the preferred attacking flank for both teams, with Ashique of MBSG and Mahesh of EEB being the prime movers of such attacks.
Then just after the water break, Jordan Elsey seemed to have twisted his ankle and Cuadrat had to replace him with Jose Antonio Pardo at the back.
With just a couple of minutes to go, the half’s two best chances fell to both teams. First when a cross by Borja meant for Siverio’s head fell for Nandhakumar, but the winger failed to keep his shot on target. Then Dimitri Petratos unleashed a brilliant strike from the top of the EEB box, but also just missed his target.
The half ended equal, not only in terms of no team scoring a goal but also in terms of both getting an equal number of bookings, with Saul Crespo and Borja for the Red and Gold brigade and Hugo Boumos and Thapa for the Green and Maroon team going into the referee’s book in the final stages.
Petratos breaks the deadlock
Cuadrat made his second change in the 57th minute of the game when he brought on the experience and guile of Brazilian Cleiton Silva in place of Borja. Ferrando responded with Manvir Singh in place of Ashish Rai.
The Punjab winger created an immediate chance on the hour-mark for Boumous, but the Frenchman shot wide from close.
Another critical moment of the match then happened when Anirudh Thapa was sent off for a high boot on Saul Crespo, his second bookable offence of the match.
In the 69th minute, Ferrando made a triple change, bringing on Australian World Cupper Jason Cummings, Liston Colaco and Glan Martins in place of Boumous, Sadiku and Ashique.
The move brought Mohun Bagan luck in the 71st minute as Dimitri Petratos, MBSG’s Greek forward, received the ball in transition, just inside the EEB half and kept advancing towards goal without much challenge from the right-hand side. He then unleashed a left-footed diagonal along the ground from just outside the box.
The ball took a bad bounce to elude the outstretched palm of Prabhsukan Gill and went in to give Mohun Bagan the lead.
In the 78th minute, Cuadrat effected a triple-change himself, bringing on Nishu Kumar, VP Suhair and Edwin Vanspaul, in place of Chungnunga, Siverio and Rakip. Then in the 87th, Ferrando made his final move, consolidating his defence by bringing on Brendan Hamill in place of Sahal Abdul Samad.
Try as they might, East Bengal could not break the MBSG defence and had to contend with the runners-up finish on this day.