ISL 2020-21: Missed chances hurt Robbie Fowler's East Bengal as ATK Mohun Bagan claim bragging rights in Kolkata Derby

Here are the talking points from ISL 2020-21's maiden Kolkata Derby played between ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal 

PN Vishnu November 28, 2020 10:50:31 IST
ISL 2020-21: Missed chances hurt Robbie Fowler's East Bengal as ATK Mohun Bagan claim bragging rights in Kolkata Derby

Manvir Singh of ATKMB celebrates a goal along with his teammates during match 8 of the 7th season of the Hero Indian Super League between SC East Bengal and ATK Mohun Bagan held at the Tilak Maidan Stadium, Goa, India on the 27th November 2020. Photo by Vipin Pawar / Sportzpics for ISL

As many would have expected, ATK Mohun Bagan marched past derby rivals SC East Bengal in a 2-0 win in the Indian Super League’s maiden Kolkata Derby at the Tilak Maidan on Friday. ATK MB once again showcased their defensive solidity as chances kept coming for East Bengal, who seemingly impressed as a unit despite the loss on their ISL debut.

David Williams returned to the starting line-up, as two second-half goals, one each from talisman Roy Krishna and Manvir Singh, sealed the win for the defending champions, as well as another clean sheet, thus walking off with the bragging rights in this marquee contest.

With the first-leg of that all-important game past us, we take a look at key talking points:

First half to East Bengal

East Bengal were the far better side in the first-half, creating goal-scoring opportunities. Pilkington impressed the most for East Bengal, with three shots altogether and two of them being on target.

The derby witnessed some brilliant footwork too, with one of them notably being from Surchandra Singh Chandran, who got the ball in his own half in the sixth minute, and nutmegged his marker. He ran forth with the ball, passing to teammate Jacques Maghoma, but as a result, conceded a throw-in to ATK.

Balwant Singh, too impressed, picking up a cross from Surchandra in the 38th minute, but the Indian striker, as a result hit the far post.

East Bengal coach Robbie Fowler admitted that while the result was disappointing, East Bengal matched ATK’s style of play.

“Well of course I'm not satisfied with the result. I think performance-wise we were okay. For a team who have been together two and a half weeks, I think we have put together a good performance. We are talking about a team who were champions last time and we matched them, more than matched them. The result is disappointing, the performance is okay, there are glimpses of what we can become," the former Liverpool player said at the post-match interview, according to a report by Goal.

The EB coach could be right, and it is the finishing that they will have to improve, if they are to try and match-up with the opposition in a fast-paced league like the ISL.

That wonder-save from Arindam

Sure, East Bengal went all guns blazing right from the start of the match. They showed intent, with notably being Anthony Pilkington’s left-footed drive from a distance, but it eventually was a loose shot which went to the hands of ATK MB keeper Arindam Bhattacharya. East Bengal, however, kept disturbing the ATK MB defence, but felt the absence of striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, as a lot of misdirected shots and errors cost them the game.

Even as East Bengal had a superior ball possession than ATK MB (59%-41%), as well as passing accuracy (77%-59%), they also endured the most shots off target (9-6), with most of them going far wide, thereby being misdirected.

The major turning point of the game, however, arguably came in the 82nd minute, with Robbie Fowler’s men seeming desperate for an equaliser.

After receiving a backpass, Arindam was in a spot of bother after passing the ball to Pilkington. The ATK MB goalkeeper was looking to clear the ball, but it almost cost him courtesy that pass to Pilkington. The EB striker then looked to capitalise with a curling effort, but in turn was Arindam who had the last laugh with an acrobatic dive to save and force it for a corner.

Out of all the chances EB won, this must have been costly, as Manvir Singh doubled the lead with a wonder-strike and eventually sealed another three points for ATK MB.

Pritam Kotal impresses

Pritam Kotal once again showcased why he can be a leader in the defensive line. Kotal was versatile throughout the match, with the most notable one being him preventing a certain counter-attack from Balwant Singh.

While he did stop the ball, he also stole it away from the East Bengal striker with a sliding tackle, something which is rarely seen at the ATK backline.

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