East Bengal Go Down at Home to Chennai City FC
East Bengal suffered a heartbreak in their homecoming as Chennai City FC secured a 2-1 victory to consolidate their lead in the I-League in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Kolkata: East Bengal suffered a heartbreak in their homecoming as Chennai City FC secured a 2-1 victory to consolidate their lead in the I-League in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Chennai's Spanish recruit Sandro Rodriquez Felipe (45+2nd) drew first blood before Enrique Esqueda drew level seven minutes after the changeover.
Chennai's other Spaniard Nestor Gordillo scored the winner, converting from the spot in the 87th minute to halt East Bengal's two-match winning run.
Chennai now have 10 points from four games, four points clear of East Bengal who have a game in hand.
The visitors also were boosted by the return of I-League leading-scorer Pedro Manzi, who was down with a lower hamstring injury.
Chennai made their intentions clear from the beginning, making the game's first foray in the fourth minute itself when Nestor and Manzi combined to release Pravitto Raju inside the box but Rakshit Dagar in the East Bengal goal was up to the task.
Dagar again staved off two possibly dangerous moves by Chennai around the quarter of an hour mark in the first half.
Then in the 20th minute, Lalrindika Ralte gave the ball away in the East Bengal deep defence and Sandro latched onto it to put it in the way of Manzi inside the box, but his placement was not up to the mark.
As the Chennai Spaniards, Nestor, Sandro and Manzi kept combining dangerously, coach Alejandro Garcia of East Bengal made an early change, bringing in Surabuddin Mallick in place of Laldanmawia Ralte in the 38th minute.
However, Chennai were not to be denied a deserving lead.
Lalrindika Ralte, who had been booked a while back, displayed irresponsible defending in inflicting another rough tackle on Sandro, in injury time of the first half.
The resultant free-kick from just outside the box on the right was expertly slotted in by Sandro, eluding a diving Rakshit.
East Bengal began the second half with urgency and were immediately rewarded.
Jobby Justin put Surabuddin through on the right and his cross from inside the box beat the Chennai defence and goalkeeper Kabir, deflected off Johny Acosta and fell to Mexican striker Enrique Esqueda who slotted in calmly.
An injured Manzi had to leave the field in the 56th minute but it had no effect on Nestor and Sandro, with the former in particular impressing again with deft touches and visionary passes while the hosts seemed to be running out of ideas.
Meanwhile, Esqueda, who has scored thrice for East Bengal in the league so far, was booked and was replaced by Bidhyasagar Singh who had scored in the last game.
However, nothing worked for the home team and it was Nestor's class which eventually paid off in the 87th minute.
He found Raju in the clear with another great pass, who in turn, released Romario Jesuraj inside the box with a brilliant ball behind the East Bengal backline.
Dagar had no option but to charge out and clip an evading Jesuraj's heels in an attempt to clear but he only ended up bringing him down.
Referee Crystal John had no hesitation in pointing to the spot with Nestor converting calmly to finish what he had begun, to send the Chennai camp into delirium.
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