Mohun Bagan vs East Bengal: Much hyped derby match drawn
Kolkata: Mohun Bagan and East Bengal played out a drab goalless draw in the return leg I-League derby which was watched by just one fourth capacity crowd at Yuba Bharati Krirngan (YBK) here today.
The much-hyped return leg derby failed to live up to the expectation as only about 30,000 crowd turned up for the match, exactly two months after the same venue had witnessed ugly fan violence that had led to Mohun Bagan`s ban only to be revoked later by the AIFF.
There was no scope for any fan violence this time as most of them stayed away while the players of both the teams put up an uninspiring show at YBK where security arrangements were tight.
In fact, at some stands of the 120,000 capacity stadium, the Khaki-clad men outnumbered the spectators, something rarely noticed in any high profile derby.
After today`s draw, East Bengal remained on the pole position in I-League table with 40 points from 20 matches, while Mohun Bagan were six from 15.
On paper, it was a battle of unequals with East Bengal perched on the top of the table against their bitter rivals, Mohun Bagan, fighting to avoid relegation at the bottom spot.
But on the field it was a battle of equals with both teams wasting opportunities galore.
Mohun Bagan had the edge, missing one free kick in the first-half and they were also unlucky as Kerala referee Santosh Kumar refused to award a penalty kick after East Bengal defender Uga Okpara handled the ball inside the box.
In the best chance of an otherwise listless match, Mohun Bagan got a free kick in the 32nd minute just outside East Bengal box and Odafa Okolie`s rightfooter beat Abhijit Mondal but only to hit the far post.
Minutes after the changeover, East Bengal defender Uga Okpara handled the ball inside the box from a Tolgay Ozbey shot but the referee turned down a penalty kick appeal much to the dismay of Mohun Bagan players.
The much-hyped Odafa-Tolgay combination failed to live up to the expectations as there was little movement from the midfield.
East Bengal, on the other hand, put up an uninspiring show as their was little intent from their attackers as well as midfielders.
Orji Penn was lacklustre in the midfield, while Edeh Chidi lacked the sting up front with coach giving rest to Robin Singh.
In a 28th minute move from Saumik Dey`s cross from the left, Penn took the shot but Shilton Paul cleared it.
The Mohun Bagan goalkeeper was adjudged man of the match in the goalless affair.
In the 34th minute, Baljit Singh`s flying header off a Chidi pass missed an open net while in the 40th East Bengal missed yet another spectacular chance with Shilton not in position.
There was little action in the second-half as the play was confined to midfield.
Mohun Bagan had two injury worries in Syed Rahim Nabi and Odafa. Nabi had to be stretchered out in the 80th minute.
Coach Karim Bencherifa, however, said there was nothing to worry about both the players.