MOHUN BAGAN MADE history by winning the Durand Cup for a record 17th time, beating arch rivals East Bengal 1-0 in the grand finale.
After losing to EB in the group stage, the Mariners settled the score on the biggest stage of the tournament and added to their long list of national level silverware despite being down to 10 men.
The nerve-wrecking match in front of a sold out crowd at the Salt Lake Stadium was feisty and physical from the start. East Bengal started out strong with much of the possession, but Mohun Bagan defended well under pressure.
The first half held onto a shaky 0-0 stasis. But disaster struck early in the second half for Mohun Bagan when Anirudh Thapa picked up a second yellow card, reducing the Mariners to 10 men. Coach Juan Ferrando made some offensive substitutions to double down on his game plan depite the deficit, and finally, 71 minutes in, Bagan broke through.
Dimitri Petratos, grabbing the ball near midfield and running all the way up, shot from outside the box, picking a narrow lane from the middle of a swarm of defenders that left the East Bengal keeper unable to react on time. The ball hit the net, and put Bagan ahead.
East Bengal went all out for the equalizer and Mohun Bagan spent the rest of the game defending desperately. The Mariners' offensive players put in a hard shift in their own half during a series of threatening set pieces all the way into the 10 minutes added by the referee. But ultimately, they prevailed; with Vishal Kaith adding yet another clean sheet to his golden glove winning performance in the tournament.
Fans celebrated their first Durand title in nearly two decades in the streets around the stadium till late night, greeting the team bus with pyro shows.
Ferrando, who won Mohun Bagan the ISL playoff trophy just months ago, now has his named etched in the history of the oldest tournament in Aisa.