ISL IX: ATK Mohun Bagan in Derby seventh heaven
Saturday’s ISL Derby at the Salt Lake Stadium in front of more than 62,000 spectators, including Sourav Ganguly, had a familiar tale to tell. Like it’s been since January 2020.
ATK Mohun Bagan once again had the last laugh as they recorded a 2-0 victory over East Bengal. It was their seventh win over their arch-rivals in the past two and a half years. Hugo Boumous got the first in the 56th minute, while Manvir Singh made it 2-0 in the 66th minute.
Till the first goal East Bengal put up a valiant show. Defence was compact, the midfield had enough spine and the flanks were lively. But once Kamaljit Singh committed the blunder in dealing with Boumous’s low shot, the team ran out of ideas. A regulation save turned into a horrendous blunder and probably Boumous himself was surprised. For a second he waited and then rushed toward the stand where ATK Mohun Bagan fans were celebrating.
In the second goal, Dimitri Petratos’s shot took a deflection and landed at Manvir Singh’s feet on the far right. His powerful shot at the near post took another deflection off an East Bengal player and ATK Mohun Bagan were two-nil up. As Manvir leapt in joy and teammates joined him, East Bengal players looked down and out.
ATK Mohun Bagan coach Juan Ferrando started with a four-man defence obviously wary of VP Suhair’s pace on the flanks. Subashish Bose and Listo Colaco combined well on the left but Colaco’s lack of ideas in the final third did not help ATK Mohun Bagan’s cause.
It was East Bengal who got the first chance in the 16th minute. Mahesh Singh’s centre from the left, Brendan Hamill missed the flight and Semboi Haokip’s header was saved by Vishal Kaith for a corner.
Mahesh was very lively on the left making Asish Rai’s life difficult. He once freed Cleiton Silva but goalkeeper Kaith came out in time to avert the danger. East Bengal’s Charalambos Kyriacou was good at the centre of the park and Sarthak Golui gave enough promise as the right back.
Before the change of ends ATK Mohun Bagan had a couple of chances. Hamill’s long ball from the left found Boumous who could not get enough space inside the box to shoot home. Then Colaco made a mess. Hamill played to Boumous whose pass found Petratos. The Australian flicked it to Colaco on the run but the latter lost control of the ball inside the box.
Colaco showed a lot of intent on the left but barring one delivery in the latter part of the second half he could not do much.
Boumous played his part to the T leading most of the ATK Mohun Bagan’s attack and he is developing a nice understanding with Petratos.
These are the initial days of the ISL and with some more time they would create quite a few problems for the opponents. But one player in the ATK Mohun Bagan shirt deserved special mention. Brendan Hamill in the defence was brilliant and his ability to play long passes when on the break gave a different dimension to the ATK Mohun Bagan attacks. One such had found Manvir Singh on the right but he could not control.
East Bengal, meanwhile had Tuhin Das’s attempt hit the woodwork. But the match was as good as over.
The home fans were in seventh heaven by then.