The much awaited 2018-19 season-opening Kolkata derby between ​Indian football stalwarts East Bengal and Mohun Bagan ended in a 2-2 draw in the Calcutta Football League at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday.

Pinu Mahata and Henry Kisekka scored in the 20th and 30th minute respectively to give Mohun Bagan a 2-0 lead at half-time. Their regional and historic arch-rivals did not give up and hit back soon to level the scoreline at 2-2 after the restart through Johnny Acosta and Laldanmawia Ralte's attempts.

East Bengal supremo Subhash Bhowmick made three changes to his team as he brought in Samad Ali Mallick, Kamalpreet Singh and Brandon Vanlalremdika in place of Koushik Sarkar, Lalrindika Ralte and Surabuddin Mallick.

Bagan coach Sankarlal Chakraborty made just one change with Lalchhawnkima coming in to replace Gurjinder Kumar.

After an intense start, the Green and Maroons scored the opening goal of the game in the 20th minute when Pintu Mahata slotted the ball home from Arijit Bagui's cross.

Bagan fans soon erupted in joy on the half-an-hour mark as Bagui ended up making his second assist, this time for Henry Kisekka to double the Mariners' advantage.

Bhowmick reacted with a substitution in the 40th minute of the game as he brought on the experienced Lalrindika Ralte in place of Kamalpreet Singh, who had a disastrous first half. Soon after this change, Johnny Acosta pulled one goal back for East Bengal just three minutes before the half-time whistle, 2-1.

Ralte's cross was played on by Mehtab Singh before Acosta showed his reflexes with  a point-blank header which goalkeeper Shilton Paul failed to hold on to. The result of that fumble saw defender Kim Kima panic and his attempted clearance hit Acosta on his chest and went in to the goal.

After such a frantic end to the first half, Sankarlal introduced Mehtab Hossain in the 53rd minute in place of Shilton Dsilva in central midfield. However, Mehtab got injured just two minutes after his introduction and left the field in utter sadness as this could be the last Kolkata derby of his career.

East Bengal rallied on in the second half and were rewarded with an equaliser on the hour-mark as the Lalrindika Ralte came up with an impressive curling corner which was saved by Shilton but Laldanmawia Ralte slotted the ball home from the rebound.

Bhowmick's East Bengal side showed positive intent in the last 20 minutes of the game and definitely looked the hungrier of the two sides in order to grab the win. Bagan, meanwhile, took the back seat and showed some good defensive work in order to ride Bengal's storm.

This draw means that both these teams' Calcutta Premier League group standings remain unchanged heading into the last round of fixtures with both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan now tied on 20 points at the top of Group A.