ATK Mohun Bagan (ATKMB) won the famous Kolkata derby, courtesy a Sumit Passi own-goal, over their arch-rivals Emami East Bengal (EEB) in a Group B game of the Durand Cup at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK), here on Sunday.
In front of a capacity 60,000 plus crowd, ATKMB were the more dominating team in the match while EEB also had their chances, but remained goalless after three games in the tournament.
ATKMB gaffer Juan Ferrando fielded an unchanged eleven from the derby while EEB coach Stephen Constantine made as many as five, some forced, due to injuries to players like Ankit Mukherjee and V.P. Suhair. EEB were the home-side on the day wearing their traditional Red & Gold while ATKMB were in their away white flannels.
After a somewhat cautious and understandably nervous start by both sides, it was ATKMB that got the first real chance of the game, when Ashique Kuruniyan broke through from the left in the 16th minute, displaying some sublime skills to weave in past a couple of EEB defenders, but his effort from close on the left, lacked direction. It was then the turn of Liston Colaco who had a wayward effort from distance in the 26th.
In the 34th, EEB's Spanish defender Ivan Gonzalez got hold of a loose ball just about 10-yards inside the ATKMB half and unleashed a pile-driver which made ATKMB keeper Vishal Kaith dive full-stretch, but it flew comfortably away from goal.
As the half looked to be headed towards a stalemate, ATKMB found their goal in the 2nd minute of injury-time, when a seemingly harmless corner by Liston, bounced awkwardly in front of EEB keeper Kamaljit and hit Sumit Passi, to deflect inside.
EEB began the second half with intent from the get go with coach Constantine making three changes, bringing in Aniket Jadhav, Cleiton Silva and Himanghsu Jangra in place of Angousana, Eliandro and Jerry.
Aniket immediately found an opening, but his volley from inside the box was off target. Then Sumit Passi got at the end of a free-header but he too missed the target.
ATKMB hit back immediately in the 54th minute, with Liston and Ashique combining beautifully in the middle and post a defensive lapse, the latter found himself in front of Kamaljeet. To the keeper's credit, he made himself big and brought off a fine save.
In the 57th, ATKMB won a free-kick which Hugo Boumous floated in and Florentine Pogba got behind the loose ball, but his shot was saved from the goal-line by Cypriot defender Charambalos Kyriacou, who had given away the free-kick in the first place.
At the hour mark, both coaches made changes. ATKMB rested Boumous and brought on Manvir Singh in attack while EEB brought on Amarjit Kiyam in place of Souvik Chakrabarti. ATKMB then slowly but surely began taking control of the midfield with some fine play by Man of the Match Carl McHugh in particular.
A goal however eluded both teams and ATKMB picked up the points to the joy of their supporters.
The Group however still stands open with all of the five teams, yet to confirm their knockout berths.
ATKMB will be the first of the two rivals to come back on field, when they take on the Indian Navy in their final game on August 31 at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan while EEB will be up against Mumbai City FC at the same venue on September 3.