Kolkata, Jan 23 (IANS) Arch-rivals East Bengal and Mohun Bagan finished with a 1-1 draw in a high pitch I-League football derby here on Saturday.
After a goalless first half, the match livened up in the later session as Ranti Martins put East Bengal ahead at the crowded Salt Lake stadium. However, Trinidadian Cornell Glenn restored parity within 14 minutes.
After three games, title holders Mohun Bagan have culled seven points. East Bengal, the better team on view during the clash, are two points behind.
Mohun Bagan took the lead in the 63rd minute when their game-maker Bikash Jairu set up the unmarked Nigerian Ranti with a speedy run followed by a chip. Ranti lost no time in letting loose a firm volley that went in.
Stung by the goal, Mohun Bagan went into the attack and got the equaliser in the 77th minute.
Glenn followed up a measured free-kick from Haitian Sony Norde and headed into the back of the net.
The first session was absorbing, with East Bengal having the lions’ share of the exchanges. Biswajit Bhattacharya’s charges played with coordinated, neat passes, which troubled the Bagan defence. On the other hand, Bagan midfielders and defenders played long through passes addressed to their strikers.
East Bengal came close to scoring in the injury time of the first half. Avinash Ruidas set out on an overlapping run down the left, but Dong Hyun Do’s header missed the far post.
Crossing over, Mohun Bagan got an opportunity in the 51st minute, when a Katsumi Yusa through came to Glenn, but the Trinidadian’s shot was palmed out of harm’s way by East Bengal custodian T.P. Rehnesh.
The action immediately shifted to the other end, with East Bengal launching a fast counter. However, Dong’s angled shot was punched out by Bagan shot-stopper Debjit Majumder.
Bagan could have settled the issue a minute into the final injury time when Glenn’s header was staved off by Rehenesh, and Rahul Bheke executed a fine tackle to clear the ball from the feet of Norde.