Calcutta: The jinx has finally been broken. After a long, long wait, Kingfisher East Bengal have managed to win two matches on the trot in the I-League. It wasn’t their best showing, at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Saturday, but East Bengal got the basics right to thwart whatever Mohammedan Sporting threw at them.
Ryuji Sueoka, Joaquim Abranches and Edeh Chidi were on target that helped East Bengal record a comprehensive 3-1 win, which also helped them move up to No. 3 in the standings
With 34 points from 20 appearances, Armando Colaco’s men trail tabletoppers Bengaluru FC, who have played one game more, by just four points.
Bogged down by injuries to key players, which in turn has gone on to affect the confidence of the rest, East Bengal had to make a watchful start with Mohammedan Sporting trying their best for early inroads. But Abhishek Das sprinted down the right and centred for Sueoka who converted at one go to take East Bengal ahead in the 11th minute.
Precisely, the Mohammedan Sporting defence was simply caught offguard with that counterattack. India coach Wim Koevermans, seated at the VIP box, should be pretty impressed with young Abhishek’s performance.
Towards the end of the first half, all attempts from Mohammedan Sporting to draw level took a backseat as a comedy of errors helped East Bengal double their lead. A misunderstanding between Sandeep Sangha, Syed Rahim Nabi and ’keeper Luis Baretto helped Joaquim add his name on the scoresheet.
Sandeep first thought the ball would be cleared by Nabi, who instead of putting it away, left it for Luis. But by the time Luis reacted, Joaquim quickly pushed the ball past him and slotted it home, leaving Sanjay Sen fuming at his players’ callousness.
A minute later, Mohammedan Sporting pulled one back with Joshimar evading his markers and Abhra Mondal to head home a Nirmal Chetri floater.
Seventeen minutes into the second half, Sueoka cleverly avoided an offside ruling by not getting into contact with Robert Lalthlamuana’s long ball and instead, leaving it for Chidi who followed up and placed the ball past the goalkeeper.
Amid the joys of keeping their title prospects alive, East Bengal’s injury list again got longer with Edeh Chidi and Cavin Lobo sustaining shoulder and ankle injuries, respectively, which make them doubtful for the April 12 tie versus Pune FC.
East Bengal: Abhra Mondal; Abhishek Das, Raju Gaikwad, Arnab Mondal, Robert Lalthlamuana; Joaquim Abranches (Baljit Singh Sahni, 79), Harmanjyot Singh Khabra, Cavin Lobo (Seiminlen Doungel, 75), Lalrindika Ralte; Ryuji Sueoka, Edeh Chidi (Gurwinder Singh, 90)
Mohammedan Sporting: Luis Baretto; Nirmal Chetri, Sandeep Sangha, Luciano Sabrosa, Syed Rahim Nabi; Monirul Mondal (Jerry Zirsangha, 24; Gagandeep Singh, 82), Manish Maithani, Penn Orji, Taro Hasegawa; Ajay Singh (Samson Ramengmawia, 50), Joshimar
Referee: Pratap Singh
MoM: Abhishek Das