The game was a rather cagey encounter that had to be settled from the spot.
East Bengal won the 122nd IFA Shield by defeating rivals Mohun Bagan 1-1(4-2) on penalties to win their 29th title. Despite gaining a lead thanks to Sourav Das in the first half, Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Asanja Daimary’s horrible error helped the Red and Gold find an equalizer through Dip Saha. Saha would also go on to win them the game on penalties, scoring the decisive one to send his teammates and fans into raptures.
East Bengal and Bagan both made a single change each with M Roger and Lalthan Khuma coming in respectively. The game got off to an exciting start at the Barasat Stadium, and despite the awfully humid conditions, the young lads started with an electric pace. But, the rigidity of both the teams didn’t really allow them to create many clear-cut chances and made it a rather cagey affair.
Mohun Bagan were threatening due to their set-piece prowess and a promising free-kick in the 18th minute met the head of a player, but could not be diverted into goal. For East Bengal, their dangerous striker Lalcchanhima was creating all sorts of problems for the Mariners with his movement and sent in a dangerous cross in the 22nd minute, only for it to be cleared.
Watch: IFA Shield final 2018 full match
Despite it being a very slow game, East Bengal were the ones creating all the half-chances and again in the 31st minute, captain Jhantu Prasad found some space to let rip a shot, which weakly went past the goal. Prasad got another chance five minutes later, but his attempt from a promising position yet again powered straight over.
The Red and Gold created a few more chances in the late minutes of the half. An amazing pass from Saurav Mondal found Lalcchanhima free inside the box, but his awful mis-control led to the ball being easily collected by Bagan keeper Daimary.
The second half started with an absolute bang as Bagan scored two minutes in when a throw-in wasn’t cleared by East Bengal’s defenders and allowed Sourav Das to cleverly put it into the net to send his fans into a frenzy. The Red and Gold looked to have been shocked by that and were playing with more desire afterward. They received a promising free-kick from just outside the box in the 56th minute, but Saurav Mondal was unlucky to see his superb attempt finish a whisker away from goal.
East Bengal didn’t seem to be able to break down the Mariners’ defense, but looked at set-pieces to try and score. They scuffed the few chances they got in the half and saw a goal disallowed in the 73rd minute, when a pass from Dip Saha found Jhantu Prasad into the box, but even though he scored, the linesman ruled out the goal judging it offside.
But, just as the game was looking like it was in the Mariners’ hands, a terrible error by their goalkeeper helped East Bengal equalize. Daimary, who was otherwise pretty good, failed to grab onto an easy shot and even though he barely prevented the ball from going in, the opportunistic Dip Saha came in and scored into an open goal to send the East Bengal fans into raptures.
Both the teams looked to have been too exhausted to get the winner after that point but tried their best to get that goal. The Mariners went close in the 85th minute when a terrific set-piece found the head of Debanna Chakraborty, who saw his attempt breeze just past the goal. East Bengal created a few half chances which were adjourned offside and the game would move into extra-time because of the team’s inability to find a winner in normal time.
While the first half of extra-time started with a fiery tempo, some tired legs in the middle and the awful conditions quickly slowed that down. A few half-chances were created in the first fifteen minutes, with none of the teams looking strong enough to get that winner. The second period was even worse and despite a few half-chances being created, the game would move onto the penalty shootout.
Mohun Bagan brought in backup keeper Avijit Debnath for the spot-kicks, but that wouldn’t really matter as two horrible penalties from Didwn Hazowary and Lalthan Khuma helped East Bengal gain a 2-0 lead, after Jhantu Prasad and Lalcchanhima had scored theirs.
While Debnath saved Subhanil Ghosh’s penalty, Dip Saha did not miss his decisive and won East Bengal their 29th IFA Shield title. The Red and Gold were understandably ecstatic by the win and have started life with new sponsors Quess Corporation in a fantastic way by defeating their most bitter rivals.