Under-pressure Mohun Bagan defied the odds to stop arch-rivals East Bengal’s eight-match unbeaten run and get back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory in a high voltage I-League clash at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Sunday.
Dipanda Dicka (1st, 35th minute) scored a first-half brace to help his side win the Kolkata derby and climb two rungs to the fourth position by recording their fourth win in 10 matches.
East Bengal, on the other hand, remained third on the points table with 19 points from 11 outings.
Mohun Bagan were without star winger Sony Norde who is out with an injury. The Haiti international witnessed the proceedings from the stands.
Despite Sony’s absence, Mohun Bagan could have scored a hatful of goals but they missed a slew of chances, the most notable being Nikhil Kadam hitting the foot of the post during the second half stoppage time.
Mohun Bagan had lost their last game to league leaders Minerva Punjab FC 1-2 at home.
The ‘away side’ started attacking from the word go and did not take their foot off the peddle throughout the entire first half.
Bolstered by the January signings of Cameron Watson and Akram Moghrabi, the Green and Maroons looked slick in the midfield with Watson playing long balls to Moghrabi for the latter to knock down for Dicka.
On the contrary, Dudu Omagbemi — playing his first match since rejoining East Bengal — was off-colour throughout the ninety minutes.
In just the first minute, Kadam crossed for Moghrabi who set up Dicka to slot home.
Stung by the early setback, East Bengal received a further jolt when their key Syrian midfielder Mahmoud Al Amna left the field after picking up a thigh injury. He was replaced by Bazie Armand.
It took 26 minutes for the first corner of the match. East Bengal’s Japanese star Yusa Katsumi swung in a corner which was headed in by Willis Plaza, but the goal was disallowed as the ball had crossed the line from the flag kick en route to the goalmouth.
At the other end, Mohun Bagan doubled their advantage from another corner. Dicka was at it again, this time scoring a beautiful left-footed side volley from Raynier Fernandes’ curler.
In the first-half stoppage time, Kadam could have put the match to bed after receiving the ball from the brilliant Dicka who robbed Eduardo Ferreira deep inside the Brazilian’s own half.
But the former Pune FC player saw his tame attempt saved by East Bengal goalkeeper Luis Barreto.
At halftime, Mohun Bagan led 2-0, much to the surprise of many owing to their recent poor form.
After the break, East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil took off Arnab Mondal for Cavin Lobo in order to increase attacking options.
In the 65th minute, Lobo teed up Bazie but the Ivory Coast midfielder failed to reach the ball with Mohun Bagan custodian Shilton Paul coming out of his line to collect it.
Mohun Bagan had two more golden opportunities to take the match beyond East Bengal’s reach but Moghrabi wasted two chances while Kadam and Sheikh Faiaz spurned a couple more.