East Bengal and Mohun Bagan last played in the Durand Cup final 19 years ago, on November 10, 2004 at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi. East Bengal beat its rival 2-1 in that match to win its 16th Durand Cup title.
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The final is one East Bengal fans remember fondly, for the club got level with Mohun Bagan as the most successful team in the tournament with the title.
Neither club has won the Durand Cup since, with both sitting at 16 titles each. The win for East Bengal was even sweeter as it came against its arch-rival Mohun Bagan with conditions completely against the red-and-gold brigade, at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi.
Despite being reduced to 10 men and looking second-best in most parts of the game, EBFC found the winning goal in the second-half injury time.
It was also the perfect revenge for East Bengal, which lost to Mohun Bagan in the 1994 Durand Cup final.
East Bengal owed it to Earnest Jeremiah, the Nigerian who created the winning goal in the final, after his stirring show in the preceding matches. Jeremiah was a constant threat to the opposition throughout the tournament.
Debjit Ghosh set an example with his dedicated approach to marshalling the East Bengal defence. He was supported by the hard-working Madhab Das, who holds a lot of promise, not to forget the opportunism of Chandan Das.
His second goal in the final was a gem after Jeremiah had set up the move.
Mohun Bagan may consider itself unfortunate. It dominated the final, doing well to equalise after a penalty by Chandan put East Bengal in the lead, but the injury time wound inflicted by him was difficult to recover from.
Rishi Kapoor and Manitombi Singh played with commitment in the defence but Mohun Bagan lacked the fire up front even though Noel Wilson played his heart out in the midfield.
Mohun Bagan did everything well except score as EBFC won the acrimonious final and dedicated the triumph to Sasthi Duley and Dipankar Roy, two of their mates in jail for their alleged involvement with a criminal.
“This win is for them,” said coach Bikas Panji, who was adjudged the best coach.
East Bengal: Rajat Ghosh Dastidar, Akshay Das (Bijen Singh 85), Debjit Ghosh, Madhab Das, Selwyn Fernandez (Climax Lawrence 52), Habibur Rehman Mondal, Shylo Malsawmtluanga, Douglas da Silva, Chandan Das, Alvito D’Cunha and Ernest Jeremiah.
Mohun Bagan: Subrata Paul, Manitombi Singh, Dulal Biswas, Eduardo Coelho (Tomba Singh 40), Rishi Kapoor, Mehtab Hussain, Noel Wilson, Basudeb Mondal, Dharamjit Singh (Jerry Zirsanga 66), James Ugwo (Ashim Biswas 40) and Sunil Chhetri
Referee: P.K. Bose (Madhya Pradesh)