Nigerian Edeh Chidi scored four goals including a hat-trick as Mohun Bagan defeated arch-rivals East Bengal 5-3 in a round four I-League match in Kolkata on Sunday.
The match was expected to be Bhaichung Bhutia's revenge match against his former team, but to the disappoinment of East Bengal fans the India football captain did not play and Chidi completely stole the show in his absence.
The first half of the match yielded six goals as fortune swung in favour of both the teams, but Chidi settled the issue with a record scoreline.
Mohun Bagan scored through Chidi in (17th, 33rd, 46th and 66th minutes) and newcomer Manish Mathani (22nd).
For East Bengal, Yusif Yakubu scored a brace (35th and 44th) while Nirmal Chhetri scored in the eighth minute.
With four goals to his credit, Chidi was adjudged the man of the match.
Mohun Bagan thus avenged their 0-5 loss to East Bengal in the historic 1975 IFA Shield final.
At that time, national goalkeeper Bhaskar Ganguly had conceded four goals. But 34 years later, East Bengal custodian Abhra Mondal conceded a record five goals.
Having made it bigger on the big occasion, Bagan supporters and players celebrated the win as Diwali had returned to Salt Lake stadium here.
For a moment, the absence of Indian captain was not felt as the players of both the teams entertained nearly 90,000 crowd to the hilt.
Mohun Bagan had an early advantage in the fourth minute when Barreto set it up for Chidi to capitalise early in the match, but Snehashish Chakraborty failed to convert from the left side of the box in an open tackle.
Bagan's defence was nowhere to be seen when Rennedy Singh blasted in a corner from the right that went straight to Nirmal.
With no one to block him, Nirmal scored a free header right in front of the goal as East Bengal took the lead in the eighth minute.
East Bengal scored another when Yusif Yakubu scored from a beautiful back flick by Abel Hammond but the referee ruled out the goal, declaring it an off-side minutes later.
In the 17th minute, a surging Chidi scored his first which was set up by Surkumar Singh from the right. The Indian medio tackled N Govin Singh and Mehrajuddin Wadoo before crossing it to Chidi who was bang on target.
The 1-1 equaliser livened up the already electrifying atmosphere with Mohun Bagan supporters going berserk bursting fire-crackers as the decibel-level shot up.
Mohun Bagan went ahead five minutes later with a goal by Manish Mathani in what appeared a goalkeeping lapse by East Bengal's Abhra.
From the left, Jose Ramirez Barreto passed it to Snehashish who gave a centre that was deflected by Abhra.
The deflection went to Chidi who passed it to Mathani and he made no mistake in giving his side 2-1 lead.
In the 31st minute, Mohun Bagan had almost compounded the lead but Barreto header hit the bar. But it did not take much for Bagan to be back in business as Chidi scored his second from a Barreto pass from the right.
Chidi did not miss with a spot on header as the Nigerian danced and displayed some acrobatics in celebration of his brace.
But East Bengal came to fore to reduce the margin, cashing in on the Bagan's weak defence a minute later.
With no Bagan defenders in sight, Yakubu scored an easy goal utilising a Hammond pass as the match yielded five goals inside the 35th minute.
Just before the break, East Bengal equalised as the script again turned in their favour.
The red-and-gold brigade made it 3-3 from a Rennedy Singh freekick from 18 yards.
In front of the box, Yakubu and Srecko Mitrovic both rose for the header but it was the Ghanaian who connected the ball, even as Mitrovic celebrated for the goal.
Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa made a tactical move in the second-half by replacing Shilton Paul with their main custodian Sangram Mukherjee who was not fit before the match.
Bagan snatched the lead right after the change over with Chidi carving a hat-trick.
Snehashish set it up from the left of the box as James Singh capitalised on the shot to head the ball to Chidi.
Continuing his glorious run, the Nigerian slotted it home with Bagan taking a 4-3 lead.
The Chidi juggernaut did not stop there as Bagan scored their record fifth through the Nigerian import in the 66th minute.
From Marcos Pereira corner, a Chidi free-header hit the ground before bouncing into the net as a hapless East Bengal custodian Abhra capped his worst match.
With two wins, Mohun Bagan now have six points, while East Bengal have two points after four matches. PTI