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CIMA Gallary

Sahni nets a hat-trick

- Have to improve a lot before the Federation Cup: Morgan
Kingfisher East Bengalís Baljit Sahni in action during the CFL tie against Army XI, at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Tuesday. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta: Baljit Sahni scored his second hat-trick of the season to help Kingfisher East Bengal beat Army XI 4-0 in a Calcutta Football League Premier Division match at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday.

East Bengal’s other striker Manandeep Singh scored the fourth goal from a penalty. They now have nine points from three matches and are atop the CFL table.

The scoreline might suggest that East Bengal played marvellous football. But it was a different picture in reality.

East Bengal looked a disjointed side in the first half. There was no understanding between the players and their attack didn’t seem to have the sting. A lack of co-ordination also meant there were mispasses galore in the match.

Talking to the media after the match, East Bengal coach Trevor James Morgan admitted that his side failed to perform in the first half. “We made a lot of unforced errors. The boys made a lot of mispasses. But they improved in the second half.”

Speaking further about the team’s composition, Morgan said: “We have to improve on a lot of areas before the Federation Cup. We are going to play a few practice matches to get the combination right.”

East Bengal could have taken the lead in the 36th minute, but Manandeep’s weak left-footer was easily saved by goalkeeper Binu T. Purushothaman.

It was because of Binu’s fumble in the 42nd minute that the deadlock was broken. Binu misjudged the flight of a Saumik Dey cross and failed to grasp the ball. Baljit Sahni was at the right place at the right time to slot home. After the changeover, East Bengal scored their next three goals within a span of nine minutes.

In the 46th minute, Baljit doubled the lead for the red-and-gold brigade. After receiving a pass, he brilliantly made a swift turn to shoot a right footer. Binu’s howler — he let the ball through his hands — meant Baljit’s scored his seventh goal in the league.

Baljit completed his hat-trick eight minutes later. After being released on the right, Balji rounded off his marker and the goalkeeper with a nice turn to shoot home a right-footer.

East Bengal rounded it off in the very next minute. Dileep M. handled the ball inside the box and Manandeep stepped up calmly to score his first goal for East Bengal.

TEAMS

East Bengal: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Saumik Dey, Gurwinder Singh, Uga Okpara, Naoba Singh, Penn Orji (Cavin Lobo 63 min.), Sanju Pradhan (Lalrindika Ralte 62), Mehtab Hossain, Ishfaq Ahmed, Baljit Sahni, Manandeep Singh (Edeh Chidi 69).

Army XI: Binu T. Purushothaman, T.L. Kuki (Kiran Varghese 45), Vijay Pal Singh Negi, Dileep M., Gordon Zoramchhana, Laldinguana, Santu Subba, Arjun Tudu, S. Raleng (Herojit Singh 53), Anthony Chetri, Antony Ramesh.

Referee: Animesh Biswas