East Bengal completes hat-trick of titles

CALCUTTA, SEPT. 2. Kingfisher East Bengal made it an hat-trick of titles triumphs as it played out a 1-1 draw against arch-rival Mohun Bagan at the Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday to finish this season's Calcutta Super Division football league campaign with an invincible 35 points from 13 matches.

Mohun Bagan, which needed a victory today to force a play-off final as required by the tournament rules if the top two teams remained separated by two or less points, failed to strike up the winning combination and had to be content with a hard- earned draw and the runner-up spot. The draw ensured Bagan, totalling 30 points from 13 matches, remain five points behind East Bengal and force an early decision in the championship.

Mohun Bagan soured its chances losing against Manaksia Tollygunge Agragami 1-2 in its second championship-leg match on August 28. The loss estranged Bagan - which won nine, drew three and lost one - further from its championship prospects and East Bengal availed this well to corner the title.

The derby match today saw a lot of the excitement the game is about. With both the teams in an attacking mode, the match saw swift exchanges of attacks. Fortune first went East Bengal's way as right-back Surkumar Singh played the striker moving up to head home a nice minus from midfielder Carlton Chapman in the 23rd minute and have his team leading 1-0 in the first session. The change of ends saw Mohun Bagan grabbing the equaliser through its Brazilian striker Jose Barreto in the 53rd minute. Both the teams had their share of chances following the equaliser but neither could produce the finish to break the deadlock.

The rest of the three positions in the championship- leg - involving Tollygunge Agragami, Mohammedan Sporting and George Telegraph SC - in the coming week as the three teams complete their fixtures. The bottom five teams of the first leg will now contest relegation.

- Our Sports Reporter

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