The city of Kolkata was divided for 90 minutes, but it was ATK Mohun Bagan’s night yet again as they defeated their fierce rivals East Bengal with a scoreline of 2-0.
The Mariners qualified for the playoffs last week, but this victory was crucial as it guaranteed them a top-four finish. As a result, they secured home advantage in the decisive playoff tie.
After a tightly contested first half, ATK Mohun Bagan showed intent in the second and ultimately scored twice in the last quarter of the game to seal all three points.
Quizzed on the reasons behind the brilliant second half, head coach Juan Ferrando revealed that his side found more space in the middle of the park.
“I’m happy about the first-half performance as well”, Juan said. “Maybe in the first half, we tried to find the spaces because East Bengal were very compact so it was difficult.
“Then we moved the ball quickly in the second half and step by step there was a distance between defense and midfield and of course, our players get the space. Federico Gallego and Hugo Boumous were easier to find in the spaces and this is the reason.
“If you watched the match your feeling is we played much better because we found space at the right moment. But honestly, I’m completely happy with the ninety minutes.”
They will now face sixth-placed Odisha FC in the playoffs at the Salt Lake Stadium in what promises to be another crunch tie. Speaking about their chances, the Spanish tactician stated:
“We have one week to prepare and it’s a very important match because it’s a knockout game and ninety minutes. When you play a two-legged tie there are chances in both matches. But in ninety minutes in terms of the mentality, we have to be ready because one mistake and you’re punished. I think it’s very important to work on focusing on our jobs and limiting mistakes.”
“Our target in the dressing room was to get three points” – ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando
The Mariners have had an impressive record against East Bengal ever since they joined the Indian Super League as they are unbeaten against their Kolkata rivals. He, however, revealed that securing the third position was important in the context of the derby.
“Honestly today, it was important to get the third position. Because of the victory now, it’s easy to play at home in the playoffs. Our target in the dressing room was to get three points because it was very important. Now it’s time to change the mentality and get ready for the playoffs.
Striker Dimitri Petratos joined his manager in the post-match press conference. The Australian scored his ninth goal of the season to put the game to bed. He opened up about the celebrations and what it meant to him.
“Every game is important and the derby is a little bit more special. It was for the fans. Usually, our fans sit on the other side but this time it was the East Bengal fans. So I jumped and went towards our fans.
“I want them to be close to us and I enjoyed the goal in the derby. This is my club, I go out and give my best in every game,” added Petratos.