29 July 2000, Calcutta: The match was evenly fought, the score even. A crowd of 70,000 watched as Mohun Bagan and East Bengal drew their first encounter in the Super Division League 1-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium today.
East Bengal started with repeated raids on the opposition goal and went ahead through Carlton Chapman in the ninth minute. Jose Ramirez Barreto converted a direct free-kick in the 35th to bring Mohun Bagan back in the match.
East Bengal used the left flank frequently in the first half with Dipendu Biswas being the centre of all moves. He made some good crosses and played an important role in Chapman’s goal. Dipankar started the move, found Dipendu on the left who guarded the ball, swerved around Sumit Sengupta and centred it for Chapman.
The East Bengal skipper came unmarked down the right and scored with a blazing right-footer.
At the other end, Barreto was marked very closely by Dipak Mondal who gave the Brazilian little room. But Barreto’s efforts to free himself resulted in consecutive free-kicks. While a collective effort by Sammy Omollo and Barreto failed in the first instance, there was no stopping the latter in the second.
Barreto earned a free-kick when Jackson Egygpong fouled him a few yards outside the penalty box. He unleashed an in-swinging curler, placing it sweetly at the corner of the goal which gave the goalkeeper little time to react. The players forming the ‘wall’ too looked mystified as Barreto’s right-footed shot sailed above them. The goal came so suddenly that the crowd took sometime to react and for the first time the Mohun Bagan supporters found their voice.
Meanwhile, Dipendu continued his runs but each of them proved fruitless. Dipankar Roy missed the easiest of them when his wild right-footer, from 15 yards, sailed way above the goal.
Off a counter-attack, Barreto masterminded a beautiful move after evading a number of defenders and found James Singh at a very good position. But James hit a wild shot which went nowhere near the goal.
The move, though, did not materialise into a goal but Mohun Bagan were just about starting to dominate.
They began the second half from where they left in the first. Barreto was now operating from the deep. The East Bengal goalkeeper did not make life any easier for his teammates as he failed to cleanly collect the ball on a number of occasions.
From a set-piece move which started with R.C. Prakash, Santos hit a good right-footer that hit the bar and fell in front of Shanti Majumdar. The custodian did everything but hold on to the ball but fortunately for him, none of the Mohun Bagan players were in a position to capitalise.
East Bengal made two substitutions at this point, which changed the course of the match. Sheikh Sanjib came in for Srikanta Dutta and Tushar Rakshit replaced Anit Ghosh. From then on, East Bengal made good use of their right flank with Sanjib making a few charges at the opposition’s defence. Rakshit broke Bagan’s hold on the game and added new vigour to the midfield.
East Bengal coach, Syed Nayeemuddin, also mentioned the two substitutes as the only gains from the game.
In the dying moments, James took a corner and almost scored. The ball hit the post and was finally cleared by Chapman.
Both teams showed equal desperation and at one instance play continued for minutes with Dipendu lying on the ground injured. It is a different matter altogether that Dipendu returned immediately after being stretchered out.
Mohun Bagan’s defence, after quite some time, looked strong and the credit can be granted to the return of Sammy Omollo who was unbeatable in the air and clean on the ground. The only drawback in their game was the appalling standard of the use of dead-ball situations.