Kolkata: East Bengal coach Biswajit Bhattacharya on Saturday praised his team for their 1-1 draw against a much-fancied Mohun Bagan terming midfielder Bikash Jairu as his candidate for the 'Man of the Match'.
East Bengal took a second half lead with a Ranty Martins goal before Mohun Bagan equalized through Cornell Glen as I-League's first derby saw teams splitting points.
"Bikash Jairu is my 'Player of the match'. He's the best midfielder at the moment right now and Rahul Bheke too was outstanding," Bhattacharya said.
East Bengal started as underdogs in the match and the coach said: "The more you (media) people tag us as 'underdogs', the better we play. Our approach has always been positive and the boys lived up to the tasks. Norde was brilliantly held up from the right while I expected more from my (forward) Do Dong Hyun."
East Bengal have won once and drawn twice to remain in third place with five points from three matches and Bhattacharya pointed out they played all away matches so far, including the one today which was Mohun Bagan's home outing.
"We have lost four points yes, but they were all from away matches. We played good and so did Mohun Bagan.
East Bengal also halted Mohun Bagan's two-match winning run but the defending champions remained in the lead of the table with seven points after three rounds.
"It was a 50-50 match. For us, it's important they've lost four points. We both played cautious game at the start as we did not want to lose. It's not as if they pressurised us.
The first goal was half chance... We knew what Ranty's capable of and I have tremendous respect for him," Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen said.