Lalrindika Ralte made a spectacular finish to help East Bengal prevail over traditional rival Mohun Bagan 1-0 in a 10th round encounter of the I-League here at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday.
The win saw East Bengal return to winning form following a series of bad results in previous rounds. It also marked an auspicious beginning for Armando Colaco, the celebrated coach from Goa, to better the team’s fortunes.
Colaco replaced Brazilian Marcos Falopa, who quit following the team’s poor showing in the tournament.
The action did not reach expected heights as the famed rivalry failed to spark off the usual mood of the contest, which was witnessed by an attendance of about 70,000.
Ralte, the gutsy midfielder who had turned saviour for East Bengal on more occasions than one, compensated for the lack of application in the team’s attack with his magical touch in the 73rd minute. Gifted with a brilliant left foot, the attacking medio from Mizoram unleashed a beautifully-angled pile-driver from around 30 yards that beat the full-stretched dive of the Bagan goalkeeper Shilton Paul before finding the far end of the net.
The first session, which remained goalless, was highlighted by a spectacular save each from the goalkeepers. The initial period of the second session saw Bagan trying to make inroads but its efforts were nixed by Mondal, who did a great job under the East Bengal bar.
With Mohun Bagan’s talismanic striker Okolie Odafa coming up with some solo efforts, Mondal came in the way, blocking a header and a powerful drive taken by the former in the 60th and 68th minutes.
East Bengal 1 (Lalrindika Ralte 73) bt Mohun Bagan 0.