| Mohun Bagan's Beto (extreme right) fires home the team's penalty past East Bengal goalkeeper Rajat Ghosh Dastidar in their IFA Shield semi-final at the Salt Lake Stadium on Friday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: History revisited Salt Lake Stadium and East Bengal once again found themselves on the wrong side of the penalty shootout drama as they lost to Mohun Bagan in the IFA Shield semi-final 8-7 on Friday.
On September 28 last year, Prasanta Dora was also there under the bar and blocked M. Suresh's shot helping Mohun Bagan lift the crown.
On Friday, the same man, certainly matured by another year, came in the way of Surya Bikash Chakraborty as well as East Bengal's hopes, leading the team to Sunday's summit-clash with Myanmar Finance and Revenue FC.
Quite a few things have changed for the winners since that September 28 evening. Jose Ramirez Barreto had left the club while Subrata Bhattacharya replaced Aloke Mukherjee as the coach. Something, on the other hand, didn't move at all for the losers: absence of Bhaichung Bhutia (who was in Malaysia at that time), their lament for depletion in key areas, one red-card (Alvito D'Cunha was thrown out last time) and the all-important nemesis in the form of Dora.
History hardly matched its reappearance so acutely.
About one year down the line, there was, however, no dearth of drama in the match, held under light. Two penalties (one missed), a power failure (forcing the game to be held up for 22 minutes) and East Bengal goalkeeper Rajat Ghosh Dastidar's ejection from the action (double booking), much to his coach's displeasure. All this was what made the derby so special, so joyous for someone and so heartbreaking for the other.
Then give damn to the tactics and strategies. It's this moving tale of dramatic turns and twists, induced and influenced by the derby pressure, that lingers.
Roberto Mendes Silva 'Beto' put the defending champions into lead in the 40th minute when he converted the penalty-kick after Louis Aniweta handled the ball while challenging the Brazilian.
Three minutes later it could have been 1-1 as Shylo Malsawmtluanga earned East Bengal another spot-kick decision (though quite dubious) from the referee Binod Kumar Singh. Paolo, Beto's answer in the East Bengal camp, missed the opportunity. The equaliser eventually came in the 60th minute. As Paolo's header off a Surya Bikash chip came back into play after hitting the crossbar, Malsawmtluanga snapped up the rebound.
The match went on, sometimes in fast pace, sometimes going through motion, with opportunities gained and lost till the decision came in the shootout. Beto, Eduardo Coelho, Noel Wilson, Amit Das, Ashim Biswas, Mehtab Hussain and Dulal Biswas were spot-on, keeping the pressure on the rivals. East Bengal matched it blow by blow with Paolo, Climax Lawrence, Sasthi Duley, Madhab Das, Malsawmtluanga and Aniweta found the target. On the seventh occasion, it was Surya Bikash's turn and Dora rightly gauged his shot and saved it to the celebration of his teammates.
It was, indeed, Bhattacharya's 'reward to the supporters.' But the coach and his wards are yet to cross the final hurdle and better remember the fact that since that September 28 evening, no trophy have come their way.
Beto, however, committed criminal mistakes when he shot off the target with just the goalkeeper to beat on two of the easiest chances in the match. So did Paolo as Dora outclassed him in one-to-one situations at least three times.
All this happened in a ground that was in poor conditions, as much as the referee's supervision. Apart from Rajat's marching order, he flashed the yellow cards eight times, some of them really arguable. That included the penalty for East Bengal.
Mohun Bagan: Prasanta Dora; Dulal Biswas, Mehrajuddin Wadao, Eduardo Coelho, Rishi Kapoor (Abhay Kumar 64); Mehtab Hussain, Basudeb Mondal (Ashim Biswas 73), Noel Wilson, Dharamjit Singh, Sunil Chhetri (Amit Das 90+2); Roberto Mendes Silva 'Beto'.
East Bengal: Rajat Ghosh Dastidar; Madhab Das, Debjit Ghosh, Louis Aniweta, Sasthi Duley, Shylo Malsawmtluanga, Chandan Das (Bhola Prasad 81), Dipankar Roy (Amar Deb 85), Climax Lawrence, Bijen Singh (Surya Bikash Chakraborty 54), Paolo Roberto da Silva.
Referee: Binod Kumar Singh.