The tickets were sold out online within the hour. Fans camped overnight outside the club tents for physical tickets when they were available. The streets leading up to the Salt Lake stadium were filling with hues of red, yellow and green. Football had come home in India.
It was a contest from the word go as Hugo Boumous and Ivan Gonzalez clashed with the former coming off worse of the two. Alex Lima too in the minute that followed, let Liston Colaco know that it is a derby.
Knowing the magnitude of the match, both Juan Ferrando and Stephen Constantine opted to pack their mid-field to stop either from scoring.
Ashique Kurunian managed to surpass the press once he got the ball on the left to dibble past a few and get a shot off in the 16th minute but his effort was wide.
Four minutes of pressure meant Asish Rai and Boumous managed to get in behind the defence with a clever one-two but the latter’s cutback to Liston did not have the legs to reach him and East Bengal cleared.
Ashique had two back-to-back moves down the left flank as the cross was behind Liston with Ivan clearing and then we cruised past Charalambos Kyriacou but his shot didn’t get the desired result.
East Bengal players were content at letting their opponents have the ball with ATK Mohun Bagan equally keen on having possession.
Souvik Chakrabarti’s relentless running let him overturn Asish in an attacking position in the 34th minute and passed it on to Ivan, as his shot from 40 yards out whizzed past the top right.
It was Souvik again who held up the ball and launch a stunning counter-attack but Eliandro Dos Santos but he and Sumeet Passi lost the momentum of the attack as ATK Mohun Bagan defenders were back in numbers.
In the added minute of the first half, Passi managed to score but at the wrong end. From a Hugo corner that evaded everyone, it was the East Bengal forward who bungled the ball in his own net.
Constantine made attacking changes after the restart. Aniket Jadhav was straight in the thick of things as he got a thundering shot away from a Souvik free-kick but his effort was inches wide. Cleiton Silva too ran down the left to get the better of Florentin Pogba as his pin-point cross was headed spectacularly wide by Passi.
In the 54th minute, Ashique had a golden chance to double his side’s lead but Kamaljit Singh in the East Bengal goal pulled off a stunning save to deny him. Three minutes later it was Kyriacou who put his body on the line to block Pogba’s shot after they failed to clear the corner.
In the 73rd minute, Kyriacou’s cross met Cleiton’s head but his effort was straight to the keeper.
With the game entering the last 10 minutes, the football became frantic and the crowd restless. Kian Nassiri got a rousing welcome from the Mohun Bagan fans, with him being the hero of the last derby.
Cleiton got a lucky break at the stroke of 90 minutes as a clearance found him acres of space but his shot was straight at the keeper.
As the referee blew his whistle the Mohun Bagan fans roared in delight in celebration of their sixth back-to-back derby win. The East Bengal fans though meanwhile were halfway out of the stadium.