East Bengal’s James Moga in a tussle with Sporting Clube’s Keenan Almeida, in Manjeri, on Saturday. Clube won 2-1. (PTI)
Calcutta: Sloppy work cost East Bengal dear as on this occasion, they were beaten 2-1 by Sporting Clube de Goa in Saturday’s Group B tie, at the MDS Complex, in Manjeri.
The agonising defeat, after a disappointing draw in their opener against Rangdajied United FC (RUFC), threatened an early exit of the defending champions from the Federation Cup.
It’s still not over for East Bengal, though, as Rangdajied held Bengaluru FC (BFC) to a 1-1 draw in the other Group B game, keeping the city giants’ hopes alive for the moment.
Inability to register a win in both their matches has certainly landed East Bengal in soup. At present, East Bengal are in the bottom of the table with one point. Bengaluru have four from two, Sporting Clube three and Rangdajied two.
Armando Colaco’s men can still manage to sneak through if they beat BFC by at least a two-goal margin and RUFC play out a draw with Clube. But a RUFC win will see the Shillong-based side through to the last-four stage.
It might seem asking for a little too much, expecting everything going East Bengal’s way. But that’s what East Bengal can do at present apart from thanking the Shillong-based unit for having done them a favour.
Cutting a sorry figure in their previous game, Oscar Bruzon’s side bounced back in style to compound East Bengal’s worries.
Clube made the most of some poor defending from their rivals to take a lead in the 18th minute. India international Victorino Fernandes nodded home Rowlin Borges’ centre from close after side-back Saumik Dey was caught out of position and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu failed to judge the flight of the ball.
East Bengal wasted as many as three chances in the first half itself.
East Bengal showed more purpose in the second half and were rewarded with a penalty in the 13th minute when rival custodian Ravi Kumar tripped captain Harmanjyot Singh Khabra inside the box. The referee had no hesitation to point to the dreaded spot and Sueoka made sure he converted from it, levelling the scores.
It was end to end stuff thereafter as both teams went for the jugular.
Beevan shot wide from inside the box after being released by Victorino, while Sueoka set Moga up with a fantastic chance. But the South Sudanese came up with a feeble attempt.
In the end, Beevan D’Mello left the red-and-gold brigade stunned, scoring off substitute Stephene Barreto’s floater five minutes from regulation time.