I-League 2019-20: East Bengal Score Late vs Punjab FC to Scrape to Draw for 2nd Straight Matchday
I-League 2019-20: Juan Mera scored late to cancel out Danilo Augusto's goal as Punjab FC and East Bengal played out a 1-1 draw.
Danilo (L) and Juan Mera scored in Punjab FC and East Bengal's draw. (Photo Credit: AIFF)
Ludhiana: East Bengal scored late for the second straight I-League 2019-20 matchday to earn another point as they held Punjab FC to a 1-1 draw at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana on Saturday as the host team earned their first point of the season.
Hosts Punjab FC took the lead through Danilo Augusto in the 13th minute of the match but were undone by Juan Mera's 84th minute strike as they settled for a draw in front of their home fans.
With the draw, East Bengal are fifth in the league table with two points from two games while Punjab sit on the ninth spot with a point after as many games.
The hosts had succumbed to a 3-0 defeat to Churchill Brothers FC Goa in their opening match of the season and that prompted head coach Yan Law to make a host of changes. Kiran Kumar Limbu started in goal ahead of Bhaskar Roy while Samuel Shadap was slotted into the backline in place of the suspended Anwar Ali. Punjab captain Sanju Pradhan retained his place in the line-up with Bali Gagandeep getting the nod upfront with Aser Dipanda Dicka.
East Bengal coach Alejandro Menendez Garcia named a largely unchanged line-up from his side that drew 1-1 at home against Real Kashmir FC, with the only change being Samad Ali Mallick starting in place of Kamalpreet Singh in defence.
The opening minutes of the match showed that this match would be a cagey affair. East Bengal pressed hard early on and had better exchanges and opportunities in the final third.
East Bengal had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 10th minute when Pintu Mahaha delivered an inch-perfect cross into the box for Jaime Santos Colado, who was completely unmarked. The Spaniard tried to go for a first-time shot from point-blank range instead of taking his time on the ball and Kiran did brilliantly to keep the ball out of his goal.
Against the run of play, Punjab took the lead in the 13th minute after Danilo headed in a Sanju free-kick. East Bengal's defence was caught napping as none marked Danilo. After the goal, East Bengal looked shook for a few moments as they struggled to even keep the ball.
The match in the first half remained a scrappy one as both teams struggled to keep possession for a longer period of time. Punjab managed to keep hold of their lead and went into the break leading 1-0.
The story did not change much in the second half as the two teams strugged to find any sort of rhythm or a definitive breakthrough.
Punjab kept defending in compact spaces as East Bengal struggled to penetrate into the final third, often finding it difficult to be quick up front.
East Bengal, however, found in the equaliser in the 84th minute when Juan Mera went for goal from outside the box and the ball found its way into the back of the net.
The visitors rode on their equaliser and raised the tempo of the game towards the end. Just two minutes after the goal, Espada had a go at goal from about 25 yards out, but his effort sailed over the crossbar.
East Bengal made a few more attempts for the winner but Punjab FC held on to take a point out of the game.
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