The Kolkata Derby eventually provided much joy to defending champions ATK Mohun Bagan as they handed a 0-2 loss to their arch-rivals East Bengal in the latter’s opening game in the Indian Super League.
Robbie Fowler’s men made a decent start to the match proceedings by taking some long-range shots at the goal of Arindam Bhattacharya and keeping the crisp passing going in order to create chances.
However, the steely defence of the ATKMB defence ensured that they blocked the majority of them and kept their sheet clean. The first half was majorly riddled by fouls which meant the fluency of the game was always a little disturbed, with neither side making any kind of meaningful inroads into opposition territory.
ATKMB’s gameplay and tactical style implemented by Antonio Habas meant that they were never going to win the passing accuracy and possession battle. However, their most important contribution came four minutes into the first half when Javi’s’ pass found mercurial centre-forward Roy Krishna, who took one look at the incoming Fox part of the opposition defence and slammed in a low fizzing strike right through the middle past East Bengal keeper Debjit who was beaten for absolute pace. The Fiji Islands captain now has 2 goals in 2 games and once again looks set to be called the favourite for the Golden Boot award.
East Bengal did have a few good chances to create the equalizer but defenders Tiri and Jhinghan managed to keep out any kind of shots that talisman Pilkington and Balwant tried to attempt. Perhaps they missed a trick by not bringing in seasoned Indian striker Jeje Lalpekhlua.
The Red and Gold Brigade were handed a golden chance to get their first goal in the league when Pilkington cut inside and struck a shot at the top right corner, but Arindam was equal to it and produced a fingertips save to keep it at 0-1.
The killer blow came in the 85th minute when Manvir Singh powered down the right flank and check back in to shoot past a hapless Debjit and made it 0-2. ATK are now top of the table with 6 points and two wins in two matches, while East Bengal will look forward to their fixture against Mumbai City on December 1.