East Bengal FC head coach Carles Cuadrat is disappointed to have dropped points against Mohun Bagan SG in their enthralling 2-2 draw in Matchweek 13 of the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday. 

The Red and Gold Brigade kicked off in style scoring just three minutes into the match with midfielder Ajay Chhetri converting Nishu Kumar’s cross to give his team the early lead. In the 17th minute, Albanian forward Armando Sadiku scored the equaliser for Mohun Bagan SG in a similar fashion sending a Brendan Hamill cross into the back of the net. 

Soon after the start of the second half, Mohun Bagan SG defensive midfielder Deepak Tangri brought down Mahesh Singh Naorem inside the box gifting his opponents a penalty, which East Bengal FC captain Cleiton Silva made no mistake converting. Just as it all seemed over for the Mariners, in the dying minutes of the match, Dimitri Petratos found the back of the net from close range, concluding the match 2-2 after an extremely competitive game of football.

The head coach believes his team deserved to win the match and missed chances were what cost them all three points.

“We had some clear chances to win the game and we missed one very clear chance of Edwin (Vanspaul), alone against the goalkeeper. And we missed 2-3, with one very clear chance of Nandhakumar (Sekar). So I'm 100% sure that we deserved to win the game,” stated Cuadrat at the post-match press conference.

Early in the first half, East Bengal FC had to make an unplanned substitution due to an injury to Saul Crespo. Youngster Sayan Mukherjee was brought in as his replacement, delivering an impressive performance in the midfield. Additionally, Cuadrat made a strategic decision to start Ajay Chhetri in the Derby, and the young player justified the faith placed in him by scoring the opening goal.

Expressing his pride in the youngsters, Cuadrat shared, “You know, managing is a very special thing because as coach, as manager, you have to try to give opportunities to all the players, and you have to try to choose the right moment for that kind of opportunities. So I'm very happy that, from the start of the season, there are some players with not a lot of minutes, but they have been training very well. They have been understanding the game, they have been understanding what I need from the different positions.”

“So, (I am) very proud of my players,” he added.

In the 18th minute of the match, 21-year-old Sayan Banerjee stepped in to replace Crespo. However, he was later substituted, with Vishnu PV taking his position. Despite the change, Cuadrat expressed admiration for the midfielder, clarifying that he was brought off later to inject more freshness onto the pitch.

Explaining his decision, the Spanish tactician elucidated, “He was doing great, wonderful. But because I wanted fresh legs. It was the moment to put Vishnu with another tactical message that I can talk with him very clearly from the bench. So I lose some time to explain it, to make it clear and be slow. He would go inside the pitch with a clear idea of the change of system, the 5-4-1. If I wanted to do that with Sayan in the middle of the game, maybe there would be a problem of communication.