Kolkata: Criticised for being profligate inside the 18-yard box, Dipanda Dicka stepped up his game when it mattered most with two brilliant goals, as Mohun Bagan outclassed East Bengal 2-0 in a much-anticipated I-League derby in Kolkata on Sunday.
Written off in the run-up to the high-voltage fixture due to their prolonged slump, a beleaguered Mohun Bagan found a star in Dicka, who showed his predatory skills with a couple of volleys out of top drawer as East Bengal's hopes of winning the league almost went up in smoke.
Mohun Bagan jumped two places to be fourth in the standings after their dominating finish and they have 16 points with a match in hand against East Bengal, who slipped to third with 19 points from 10 outings.
It was a match that Mohun Bagan should have won by a bigger margin had Nikhil Kadam and Akram not bungled clear opportunities.
The Cameroonian struck the first one with a snap volley in what was one of the fastest goal of the season in the opening minute while the second one (34th) was a treat to the eyes as his acrobatic volley thundered into the back of the net.
This was East Bengal's second loss of the season and both have come against their bitter foes, the first being a 0-1 defeat on 3 December in the first-leg.
Emotional scenes were witnessed in the embattled Mariners camp as the green-and-maroon fans sported masks of Sony Norde, their injured star I-League winning striker, who has decided to part ways.
It was a ruthless show by Mohun Bagan as the Khalid Jamil-coached side hardly had any chance and had a momentary joy in the 27th minute when Katsumi Yusa speared in a perfect delivery for Willis Plaza to head it in.
But the assistant referee raised the flag and disallowed the goal as East Bengal continued to remain in the lurch. Such was their sheer domination that Mohun Bagan could have pumped in at least half a dozen goals as Dicka missed a hattrick, while Kadam squandered a one-on-one with Luis Barreto in the first-half injury time.
Churchill Brothers' I-League-winning forward Akram Moghrabi also had a brilliant opportunity after being set up by Dicka from the left but he shot over the bar in his maiden outing for Mohun Bagan.
Dicka gave Mohun Bagan a dream start to the derby as East Bengal's defence was caught napping when he utilised Nikhil Kadam's cross that was set up by Akram.
The Cameroon striker found himself in a perfect position from a Raynier Fernandes' corner kick as he took it on the full and his left-footed volley was out of reach for Barreto.
There was no looking back for Mohun Bagan from then on and they got their campaign back on track with a memorable maiden derby win for coach Shankar Lal Chakraborty, who was elevated after I-League winning Sanjoy Sen stepped down.
Shankarlal rung in three changes to their line-up, including a Mariners debut for Moghrabi, who partnered Dicka in their 4-4-2 formation.
Updated Date: Jan 21, 2018 17:29 PM