Siliguri: East Bengal registered a record-extending eighth consecutive Calcutta Football League (CFL) title by holding Mohun Bagan to a 2-2 draw in a thrilling match at the Kanchenjunga Stadium on Sunday.
East Bengal have won all the CFL titles since 2010. They have a total of 39 CFL titles — a record haul.
East Bengal needed a draw to seal the deal with both teams being on the same number of points (22) but the former remained ahead on goal difference.
Azharuddin Mullick (2nd) gave Mohun Bagan an early lead only for Laldanmawia Ralte (43rd) to equalise just before halftime.
Mohun Bagan went ahead again after the break, through Ansumana Kromah (49th) who netted from the penalty spot but East Bengal pulled one back again to keep the odds in their favour courtesy another penalty conversation by Mahmoud Al-Amnah (66th).
Mohun Bagan set the tempo of the match by taking an early lead through Azharuddin whose cross East Bengal defenders failed to clear the ball squirming into the net.
Azharuddin attempted a back volley soon after from Arijit Bagui’s cross but the ball fizzed over the crossbar.
East Bengal got their first real chance in the 16th minute when Rafique’s corner was headed wide by defender Carlyle Mitchell.
Rafique then set up Gabriel Fernandes who failed to find the back of the net from inside the box.
The match was an open affair with both sides carving out chances one after the other.
While Samad Ali Mullick’s adventurous solo run down the right inside channel failed to cut through Mohun Bagan defence, Nikhil Kadam’s good looking pass saw Azharuddin fail to connect with the ball as rival goalkeeper Luis Barreto was out of his line.
Kamo Stephane Bayi and Ansumana Kromah combined well next for Mohun Bagan but the former’s shot at the near post was dealt with easily by Barreto.
East Bengal equalised soon after, with Laldanmawia Ralte bulging an empty net in front of him after Gabriel Fernandes’ curling free-kick found Lalramchullova inside the box with the defender deftly square passing Ralte with keeper Shilton Paul at his mercy.
Just after the restart, Mohun Bagan went 2-1 up just like the first essay. Mitchell hacked Kamo down inside the area to hand the green and maroon brigade a penalty. Kromah converted from the spot.
But their joy was short-lived as the red and gold shirts pegged back for the second time in the match. Rayneir Fernandes brought Ralte down inside the box and Al Amnah made no mistake from the spot, sending keeper Shilton the wrong way.
Tempers flared as the match neared its final moments. First Mohun Bagan skipper Kingshuk Debnath was sent off for a second booking as angry players surrounded the referee in protest.
Minutes later, substitute Surabuddin Mullick was shown the second yellow and given marching orders for a challenge on Chesterpaul Lyngdoh.
This is published unedited from the IANS feed.