The Kolkata Municipal Corporation might have proposed the city to be painted in blue and white, but the City of Joy seems to have draped itself in Red and Gold for the fifth time in as many years, as East Bengal won the Calcutta Football League (CFL), beating Tollyganj Agragami 2-1, on Monday.
The match was like a cup final for the Red and Gold brigade – anything but a win would ensure that Mohun Bagan's victory in the league for the first time in five years. East Bengal however, had different plans, as they overcame a tight game against Tollyganj Agragami to clinch the title for the fifth time in a row.
"Today, more than winning the title, I'm happy with the triumph of a policy, a philosophy," said East Bengal head coach Armando Colaco to Goal.com. "My young players have proved that they are capable of winning and ready for taking more responsibility in future."
Although the match was billed as a cup-final, it was actually a three-horse race to the finish. Mohun Bagan had already won their last game, and were temporarily sitting at the top of the league, with 24 points.
Meanwhile, both East Bengal and Tollyganj were sitting in second and third spot, with 22 points each. A victory for either of the two teams in this match would ensure the league title for the respective team. However, if the match ended in a draw, Mohun Bagan would walk away with the honours. Both Tollyganj and East Bengal had a goal difference of +18, making it even tighter for the two sides.
Despite all that was at stake for the two sides, it was more or less a cagey affair at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata. All the three goals were scored in a stretch of play that lasted only about six minutes. Prolhad Roy opened the scoring for the Red and Gold brigade, smashing in a loose ball from close range, around the half hour mark of the game.
However, East Bengal did not have much time to celebrate their success, as Tollyganj equalized three minutes later. Nigerian Bello Rassaq headed in a corner from close range, to equalize for Tollyganj, on the 33rd minute.
A number of Mohun Bagan fans had gathered in the stadium, hoping for a result that would be favourable to their team. Rassaq's goal sent them into a frenzy of ecstasy, as they dreamed of the title coming back to them, for the first time in five years.
Rassaq however, turned from hero to villain in the span of three minutes, as he miss-headed the ball on fellow Nigerian striker Ranty Martins, who coolly headed it past Tollyganj keeper Raju Ganguly, thus silencing the Mohun Bagan fans inside the stadium.
As a result of this victory, East Bengal have clinched their fifth CFL title in five years, and 36th title overall, ending up with 25 points this year. Mohun Bagan was pushed down to second place with this result, ending their campaign one point behind arch-rivals East Bengal, at 24 points, closely followed by Tollyganj Agragami, at 22.