Mohun Bagan rode on Nigerian centre-back Kingsley Eze's first-half header to down arch-rivals East Bengal 1-0 in a heated Kolkata derby and claim their first win of the 2017-18 I-League at a packed Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Sunday.
The lunchtime kick-off saw 64,630 spectators turn up for the marquee fixture being played at the colossal venue after a gap of almost two years.
Eze scored in the 39th minute to give the 'home team' the lead. He was impressive at the heart of the Mohun Bagan defence and weathered a string of efforts by East Bengal in the second half along with Kingshuk Debnath to help seal the three points.
East Bengal were disappointing throughout the match. They lacked teeth up front and failed to deliver in the final third.
Courtesy the result, Mohun Bagan now have four points from two games while East Bengal remain on one point from two outings.
Mohun Bagan made three changes from the last game against Minerva Punjab FC with Yuta Kinowaki making a comeback from injury.
East Bengal ringed in the same number of changes. Luis Barreto was preferred over Mirshad between the sticks with Mohammed Rafique and Salam Ranjan Singh making way for veteran Gurwinder Singh and Laldanmawia Ralte.
In the first 20 minutes, tackles flew in thick and fast with Mohun Bagan's Dipanda Dicka the victim of some debatable refereeing decisions.
The 'home team' came close to taking the lead in the 33rd minute when Kingsley's powerful header was parried away as far as the far-post by keeper Barreto before Kinowaki's effort on the rebound was cleared by East Bengal defenders from a goalmouth melee.
Minutes later, Sanjoy Sen's charges took the lead sending their supporters in front of East Bengal's goal into wild celebrations.
Norde's corner was flicked on by Kinowaki into the path of Kingsley who nodded in from close to score against his former coach Khalid Jamil with whom he won the I-League at Aizawl FC last season.
After the breather, East Bengal threw everything at their eternal rivals to restore parity. At the heart of their forays was Syrian midfielder Mahmoud Al Amna.
The former Aizawl FC schemer played in the middle of the park, trying to set up Willis Plaza ahead of him, and even drifted wide on a few occasions in the hope of delivering an incisive cross.
Looking to protect their slender lead, Mohun Bagan took off Dicka and drafted in defensive midfielder Shilton D'Silva.
Katsumi got a free kick five minutes into the hour mark from a good-looking area, but failed to keep the ball on target from 25 yards out.
Plaza got a golden oppotunity to equalise, but the Trinidadian striker dilly-dallied with his backs to the wall for Shilton Paul to smother the ball.
Shilton then pulled off a top save off a Laldanmawia curling shot from inside the box.
East Bengal threw the kitchen sink at Mohun Bagan in the dying minutes of the game with an Al Amna shot and Katsumi corner failing to bear fruit.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)