Derby is a special match for every MohunBagani. We live and breathe by the big game. A win in the derby feels like euphoria, no matter how many times you experience it. On the other hand, a loss at the same crushes the morale, of not only the supporters, but the players and every person associated with this legendary club. After the shock defeat against arch rivals Emami East Bengal on Saturday, all eyes were on Juan Ferrando's men. Can they step up leaving the derby defeat behind them? Can they prove, this team is not only an amalgamation of superstars, a constellation so rarely seen in Indian football. Guess what....all the questions were answered today!

Mohun Bagan team vs Machhindra

Ferrando opted for his typical 4-2-3-1 with Vishal Kaith in goal. Subhasish captained the side and was responsible for keeping the defence intact along with Anwar, Hamill and Ashish Rai. The midfield composed of a trio of Thapa and Glan, with Hugo taking up the number 10 role. The crowd favourite Jason Cummings was handed his first start upfront, along with fellow debutant Sahal and Ashique on the wings.

Mohun Bagan starting 11

On a rain soaked day, in front of loyal fans at the VYBK, everybody expected a good performance from Ferrando's men. What people were perhaps not expecting was a clear cut chance within the first 20 seconds itself. Ashique had an open goal in front of him thanks to a Ashish Rai cross in to the box, but he missed. That however didn't bother the Mariners, as they kept their foot on the accelerator throughout the half. Ashish Rai was outstanding both in attack, as well as in defence. Coach Ferrando seemed to let him play a more advanced role, with Ashish being in the midfield and wings when the team were in possession. The link up play of Ashish, Hugo and Anwar was too good to watch. Only thing missing? Goals. Long rangers from Sahal. Cummings, Hugo et all went in vain. The goal keeper and captain of Machhindra FC, Vishal Shrestha had an outstanding game, making save after save.

Mohun Bagan seemed to adapt to a back three of Subhasish, Anwar and Hamill when they were in possession. Glan dropped down to help the team defensively. While defence was doing its job pretty well, the attack looked toothless in the initial 15-20 minutes. Cummings was tracking back from time to time, but at times, he was the only one to aim for in the box. Naturally he was heavily marked and scoring was made even more difficult for him.

Bagan kept taking shot after shot. The team started to look fluid. And at the heart of it was a certain French man. Back in the initial days of the transfer market, rumour had spread that the club was desperate to offload Hugo. Well, after today's performance, we can't say if that is logical. Hugo was the hole player, a roaming play maker. Sometimes on the wings, sometimes dropping the shoulder and taking the shot, or just putting a killer pass, he did it all. Hence it was no surprise when his corner led to the biggest chance of the half for the Mariners. Hugo took the corner from the right, and the ball landed on the feet of Subhasish who had the whole open goal to aim for. But he missed, quite shockingly.

Machhindra FC were not gonna sit back and defend. They put in the tackles, and to their credit had the better possession stats in the game. Yet, they could put one shot on target in the first half. Not even one. The sporadic attacks were over shadowed by the heroic brilliance of their keeper Vishal Shrestha.

But, the river finally found its way. The flood gates opened, and Mohun Bagan scored. Anwar headed in from a corner taken by Boumous. Beautiful corner, commanding header, 1-0 Mohun Bagan.

Goal scorer Anwar Ali with captain Subhasish Bose

That goal gave confidence to our players, who kept up the high press, forcing the MFC players to play within their half. The most satisfying factor of the first half were the excellent through balls by the likes of Anwar, Boumous and Subhasish.

The second half began in similar fashion with Mohun Bagan pressing high. At one point, we had 23 shots on target to MFC's one shot. But the supporters were not satisfied. They came to watch goals. They came to be entertained after a dull performance at the derby. They wanted their star man, the Aussie goal machine Jason Cummings to step up. Jason, though trying throughout the match, just couldn't find the back of the net. Until the the 58th minute.

One Aussie unlocked the other Aussie. Bagan's talisman Dimi Petratos replaced Hugo on the field, and the instant connection he had with Cummings was a treat to watch. Excellent pass from from him to Jason, who rounded off Vishal Shrestha for his first goal for Mohun Bagan. The first of many, many, many goals to come for sure.

Jason Cummings with his trademark celebration after the scoring the goal

Both Cummings and Sahal were replaced later in the match by Armando Sadiku and Kiyan respectively. Bagan kept up the high press, but MFC never gave up. And that became apparent in the 77th minute. Glan conceded the free kick just outside our 18 yard box, and my oh my, WHAT A FREE KICK!! Its just these moments which make you stand and admire players. MFC gained in confidence after the match and kept pushing for the equalizer.

But all their hopes were washed away in the 85th minute. Anwar Ali again headed in commandingly from a Dimi Petratos free kick, thus securing the victory for Bagan.

Anwar Ali celebrates his second goal with his team mates

All in all, it was a good match for our boys. It was evident to see that many of our players are still rusty and adjusting to the new team. It takes time to build something new, time to develop beautiful football, time to establish a philosophy and stick to it. Time to become the best. This team has it in them. The talent in this squad is immeasurable, right from the senior team to our juniors. It's all about finding the right balance, the right guidance. 

The Final Score

With young blood like Anwar, superstars like Dimi and Jason, our unpolished diamonds like Suhail Ahmed Bhatt and our Indian contingent including the likes of Thapa and Sahal, the only way is upwards and forwards. This, is a dream club, for you, for me and for our players. Just listen to Anwar's post match interview and you'll know. Back the boys, interesting days are coming which will no doubt shower success upon our club.

Next up, Dhaka Abahani Ltd. from Bangladesh on 22nd August in the AFC play-offs.

Until then, Joy Mohun Bagan dear Mariners!! 

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