It rained goals and Nigerian Edeh Chidi fired four with a hat-trick as Mohun Bagan prevailed over arch-rivals East Bengal 5-3 in a I-League derby clash before a 10,000-strong crowd here Sunday.
The fat scoreline at the Salt Lake stadium was, however, no indicator of the standard of the fare dished out by the two city giants; in the final analysis, sloppy defending on both sides of the ground led to the deluge of goals, though Bagan seemed tactically superior.
Besides Chidi, new recruit Manish Mathani struck for the winners, while East Bengal's veteran Ghanaian striker Yusif Yakubu put home a brace, with Nirmal Chhetri scoring the game's opening goal by heading in a Renedy Singh corner.
Half a dozen goals came in the first half, that saw the rivals locked 3-3. After Chettri drew first blood in the eighth minute, Chidi found the mark in the 17th and Mathani five minutes later to enable Bagan seize a 2-1 lead.
The unstoppable Chidi - a constant source of harrassment for the East Bengal defence with his power-packed shots and thrusts, widened the gulf to 3-1 in the 33rd minute, before Yakubu scored twice (35th and 44th minutes) to restore parity.
East Bengal paid dearly for Syed Rahim Nabi's ineffectiveness in the left back position, as the Bagan attacks flowed from the right.
Bagan right wing back Sur Kumar Singh went on an impressive but unchallenged run to address a centre to Chidi who scored to make it 1-1.
Bagan's third goal was also the result of an error on the part of the east Bengal rearguard as Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Nirmal Chetri virtually stood like statues as Chidi finished off a Barreto cross.
Bagan goalkeeper Shilton Pal also seemed tentative and could be blamed for East Bengal's second goal that saw an Abel Hammond miskick go off Yakubu's chest and roll into the net over the diving goalkeeper.
Mohun Bagan coach Kaim Bencharfa rightly replaced Pal with seasoned campaiagner Sangram Mukherjee after the half time break and the green and maroon brigade's citadel remained intact in the latter session.
East Bengal's attack line dearly missed the presence of Bhaichung Bhutia, who sat out with a hamstring and calf muscle injury. Besides, East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick never felt the need to police dangerman Chidi, who had a free run.
Chidi completed his hattrick in the 46th minute, exploiting another defensive faux pas on the part of East Bengal. The rearguards failed to cut off a Snehashish Chakraborty centre from the left and James headed down for Chidi who thundered home.
The Niogerian got an insurance goal to make the final tally 5-3 when he nodded in off a Marcos Pereira free kick.
The result helped the Bagan supporters forget a 34-year-old shame. East Bengal had mauled their rivals 5-0 in the 1975 IFA Shield final, and Sunday was the first ever instance when Bagan netted five in a derby clash.
After four matches, Bagan occupy the fifth slot with six points, while East Begnal are far behind in the 11th position. They have collected only two points so far.