Sony Norde once again returned to save Mohun Bagan while the Haitian team struck a solo run to write a hard-fought 1-0 win against the Neroca FC title contender in an I-League clash on Saturday.
Both teams tried to do better, but Mohun Bagan lacked cohesion while the Imphal outfit lacked the finishing touch.
But Norde had other ideas when the Mariners captain struck at 79th with a clinical result to avenge his 1-2 defeat in the front in front of 7500-odd fans at the Salt Lake stadium.
Norde capitalized on a nice midfield placed by Darren Caldeira and made a single pass over Neroca's defense before bumping into the right side of a relaxed Lalit Thapa at the far end of the corner.
This was the second consecutive victory of Mohun Bagan under new coach Khalid Jamil, who took the reigns from Shankarlal Chakraborty after losing the fourth game of the season.
Mohun Bagan overtook the opponents of the East Bengal arch in fifth place with 21 points, giving them the necessary oxygen before the return derby on 27 January.
The former champions had lost the derby of the first stage 2-3.
Mohun Bagan also denied the Neroti last season last season the opportunity to join Chennai City at the top of the standings, and the Imphal outfit remained in fourth place with 21 points in 12 games.
Visitors were the most dominant side and created more chances for the landlords, but a series of impressive parades of Mohun Bagan's keeper Shilton Paul kept them at bay.
The thirty-year-old was tall in the first half and denied Subhash Singh's powerful left in the 26th.
Paul was also lucky to have escaped a red card at the 52nd when he stabbed former teammate Katsumi Yusa inside the penalty box, who went unnoticed at the referee Umesh Bora.
Jamil made only one change to the team that won against Minerva FC in comeback. Lalchhawnkima was reinstated in central defense in place of Dalraj Singh.
Manuel Fraile preferred to stick to the winning XI who defeated Shillong Lajong.
The first real chance came after half an hour when Mohun Bagan tried to score Abhishek Ambekar's shot from a loose ball at the 36th minute.
But the keeper of Neroca Thapa managed to keep the ball out of the goal line, even though he entered the net.
A couple of minutes later, Mohun Bagan's defense seemed unlucky as Malemnganba Meitei threw himself to the right of Pal.
Felix Chidi took the ball from the deflection but his shot hit the outer side net, much to the relief of Mohun Bagan's spectators.
Mohun Bagan seemed largely insignificant with a game devoid of imagination and lack of creativity in midfield.
Playing early, Yuta Kinowaki and Aser Dipanda Dicka had no impact as the team focused on Norde.
Norde had the opportunity to double the moments of advantage after scoring the goal, but an alarm Thapa came on his way, and his angled shot flew over the crossbar.