| Bhaichung Bhutia, who scored two of East Bengal’s three goals, takes control of proceedings at the East Bengal ground Wednesday
Calcutta: East Bengal’s fourth victory in as many matches, and the club seems to have developed a penchant for the 3-0 scoreline. Mohammedan AC, debutants in the Calcutta Football League’s Super Division, were at the receiving end at the East Bengal ground, and though they could have thrown one back, the fact remains that Bhaichung Bhutia’s double strike, rounded off by one from Alvito D’Cunha has now given East Bengal 12 points from four matches.
For the record, all East Bengal wins have been in three-goal margins (the first one being 4-1, before the 3-0 streak started). Mohammedan AC have six points from three matches, this being their first defeat.
The dominance in the first half was clear, not many of the moves translating into real goal-terrors, though. The frontline was active, but the midfield lacked a bit of the punch and the defenders looked a trifle unsure. But in the process, a Malswamtluanga-Bhaichung-Kulothungan combination has grown.
In the 41st minute Malswamtluanga was up the right and into the box. Bhaichung followed up the left and as Malswamtluanga let go the gentle centre, Bhaichung tapped in with goalkeeper Shibram De drawn out.
The ascendancy was uninterrupted, but early in the second the home team witnessed some major scary scenes as Mohammedan AC hit back. Eight minutes into the second half, Reaz-ul Mustafa sent a cross to Amar Ganguly, who turned it via a header to a better-placed Ari Benjamin. Benjamin, who has come down from Mizoram, got the ball at the goalmouth with even goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee out of charge. He did give the only tap necessary, but directed just off target.
Despite the miss, Benjamin showed a good head in ball control and could be a handful for any defence if he can develop into a snatcher, instead of being a follower.
East Bengal hit back in the 63rd minute when substitute Bijen Singh took the ball up the left and centred to the goalmouth. Bhaichung was in a melee and shot goalwards. The first shot came off the goalkeeper, while the second was saved, almost on the goalline by Shariar Reza.
Eight minutes later Bhaichung made amends. Malswamtluanga again pulled one initiative up the right and sent a high centre to the goalmouth. Bhaichung, the opportunist, was there to rise and head in quickly.
That was when it started pouring. The ground was getting easier for the home team and play settled down at the Mohammedan AC defence zone.
Play ended with a D’Cunha miss, and later a pleased as peach coach Subhas Bhowmick said his team did exactly what he wanted them to do in the first half. “There was a time in the second half when my midriff and defenders were perhaps a bit complacent, but when I put Dipak Mondal back in and reorganised Mahesh Gawli, it was back to normal.”
He said he was not thinking about Saturday’s derby match versus Mohun Bagan, but made it clear that he was unhappy that his team had to play two matches in the last 48 hours. “That isn’t good for a player,” he said.
East Bengal: Sangram Mukherjee, M. Suresh, Sur Kumar Singh, Mahesh Gawli, Suley Musah, Subhas Chakraborty, Dipankar Roy (Alvito D’Cunha, 34), Chandan Das (Dipak Mondal, 55), Malswamtluanga, K. Kulothungan (Bijen Singh, 61), Bhaichung Bhutia.
Mohammedan AC: Shibram De, Reaz-ul Mustafa, Shariar Reza, Sandipan Das, Soumik Dey, Ali Reza (Shaqueel Ahmed, 29), Swarup Chatterjee, Subrata Guha, Bastab Roy (Seikh Sarwar Ali, 90), Najim-ul Islam (Ari Benjamin, 46), Amar Ganguly.
Referee: C. Das Majumdar.