Kolkata | Mohun Bagan Super Giant won their 17th Durand Cup title with a 1-0 win over arch-rivals East Bengal in the final at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday.
The victory was sweeter after it was achieved despite playing more than one-third of the match with ten men after midfielder Anirudh Thapa was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence on the hour mark.
In the end, it was Dimitri Petratos’ strike in the 71st minute that proved to be the difference as the Mariners held on for a special triumph.
The game got off to a lively start in front of a packed stadium and an electric atmosphere. The two teams cancelled each other out in the opening exchanges and it was East Bengal FC who threatened to make the first inroads.
Javier Siverio and Nandhakumar Sekar combined well to almost send the latter through on goal but the final pass was heavy allowing Mohun Bagan Super Giant to snuff out the danger in the 28th minute.
The best chance of the first half fell to Siverio who latched onto a loose ball inside the area but couldn’t keep his shot down with just one minute of the regulation time in the first half to go.
The Mariners then came close to breaking the deadlock when Petratos fired just inches over in the dying minutes of the first half after Juan Ferrando’s side patiently built an attack.
The first half ended level pegging with both teams enjoying their moments.
The second half began exactly as the first half with both teams nullifying each other.
Both managers flexed their muscles and made key substitutions on the hour mark. Cleiton Silva came on for East Bengal FC while Manvir Singh entered the fray for Mohun Bagan Super Giant.
A minute later, the entire complexion of the game changed when Thapa received a second yellow card for a high foot and the Mariners were reduced to ten men.
East Bengal FC then took the initiative in the game and Mohun Bagan Super Giant goalkeeper Vishal Kaith had to be at his best to deny Silva who looked to bend it in the corner in the 70th minute.
But a minute later, the Mariners launched a counter-attack that saw Petratos run unchallenged towards the East Bengal FC goal and find the bottom corner with a left-footed low shot to put the ISL 2022-23 Cup Winners in front.
The goal, much against the run of play, seemed to rattle East Bengal FC who lost their composure in the final minutes. In a bid to find the equaliser, Carles Cuadrat’s men tried to force the issue, sending aimless crosses into the box that played into the hands of Ferrando’s side.
Nine stoppage time minutes were added but Mohun Bagan Super Giant staved off a late East Bengal FC rally to collect the Durand Cup and spark celebrations in the green and maroon end of the stadium.
Having won the Indian Super League (ISL) Cup last season, Mohun Bagan Super Giant added another trophy to their cabinet to further boost their confidence ahead of the new ISL season.