KOLKATA: Mohammedan Sporting Club, despite playing the entire second-half with 10-men, put on a valiant effort but end of the day it was not enough as East Bengal walked out victorious 3-2 in their Calcutta Premier Division ‘A’ encounter on Thursday at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan.
Going into the match both Mohammedan and East Bengal needed the result to go their way if they had any hope of keeping their title dreams alive.
East Bengal started the match with more purpose in the early exchanges and took the lead in the 12th minute through Pintu Mahata who sent in a thundering header into the net from a low cross by Ronaldo Oliviera from the right wing.
While the goal buoyed East Bengal to continue pushing high into the Mohammedan final third, the early wake-up knocked their opponents into action as Mohammedan restored the parity in the 24th minute when Borja Perez Gomez headed a Kareem Omolaja free-kick into his own net to the delight of the Mohammedan fans.
The equalizer signalled a lift in intensity from the Black Panthers, who made several decent attacks with Vanlalbiaa Chhangte and Satyam Sharma testing East Bengal goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte, however, things took a unexpected turn for the Black Panthers when Shafiul Rahman used his hands to keep out Jaime Colado’s goal-bound header which not only earned a penalty for East Bengal but Shafiul also got his marching orders. It was Colado who stepped in and slotted the penalty into the bottom right corner to give East Bengal the lead going into the break.
Mohammedan came out of the sheds fired up to bring themselves back into contention. Although a man down, the Black Panthers proved they are a resilient, determined bunch of young men. They kept the pressure up on their opponents to dominate periods of the second-half making inroads into the opposing final third and coming very close to securing an equaliser.
However, Saheed Ramon’s charges weren’t able to keep up the pace as substitute Marcos Espada headed home a cross from Lalrindika Ralte leaving goalkeeper Priyant Singh no chance.
Mohammedan, meanwhile, did not lose hope as they kept attacking with intensity and pulled a goal back through substitute Arthur Kouassi in the 82nd minute.
The match started to become a little tenser as the clock counted down with Mohammedan showing great determination in their pursuit of an equalizer, while East Bengal remained solid at the back.
Mohammedan, to their credit, never gave up but it appeared as if getting on the score sheet just wasn’t to be for the side today with every shot went anywhere but on target as East Bengal held on for a narrow win.
Mohammedan coach Saheed Ramon said his team displayed another spirited performance but unfortunately the result was not on their side.
“I thought they battled until the end, they really put everything on the field. We demonstrated a will to win, even when one man and two goals down. What more can I demand from them? I cannot demand more,” Ramon added.
For Mohammedan SC, the journey may be over but after a promising campaign technical director Dipendu Biswas is already looking to the future.
“We finish the Calcutta Football League tonight and now it’s time to start thinking about the 2nd Division League,” he said.
The result means East Bengal top the Calcutta Premier Division ‘A’ with 20 points from 10 matches while Mohammedan finish their campaign on 19 points from 11 matches.