| Gurjinder Kumar of Pune FC closes down on Edeh Chidi during their I-League match, at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Monday. A Telegraph picture
Calcutta: A 28th minute strike from Edeh Chidi helped Kingfisher East Bengal pocket three points against Pune FC as they won 1-0, at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Monday.
Though Chidi scored the all-important goal for the home side, it was Abhijit Mondal who was the star of the day. His heroics under the bar helped East Bengal resist a late charge from Pune.
East Bengal now have seven points, while Pune remained with six from three matches each.
Pune FC showed good organisation but their efforts to find the equaliser remained abortive. It was Pune FC who launched the first attack. But Arata Izumi failed to capitalise on a Karma Tsewang cross in the eighth minute.
East Bengal took charge of the proceedings in the 20th minute when their midfielder Penn Orji set up striker Manandeep Singh with a neat centre that the latter fluffed with a poor connection.
The next move in the 28th minute got East Bengal the break. Chidi showed a fine sense of opportunism when he received an unlikely assist — coming from Pune FC’s Srikanth Ramu whose defensive clearance rebounded off a colleague to reach the East Bengal striker — and foxed the opposition custodian Shahinlal Meloy with an inside-out punch at the far end.
Chidi and Manandeep had two more opportunities to enhance the lead but could not reproduce the finishing .
Pune FC stung back with a series of raids in the second half but the equaliser refused to come as experienced Abhijit made brilliant reflexive saves to spoil at least three spectacular attempts from the former’s India striker Jeje Lalpekhlua. Jeje’s first attempt, a left-footed angular shot in the 52nd minute, came off Abhijit’s outstretched foot while the latter dived full length to clear the Pune FC striker’s second attempt in the 72nd minute.
Appearing like a though reader the East Bengal custodian came in the way again when Jeje fired a nice volley on a half-turn in the 76th minute. Pune’s other striker James Moga also failed to break the jinx seeing his 65th minute shot going wide hitting the crosspiece.
Chidi was chosen the Man of the Match for his match-winner. There's no doubt that the Nigerian striker played well, but a fairer assessment would have seen Abhijit Mondal win the match's best award. He stood like a wall when Pune FC threw a barrage of attacks on the East Bengal goal.