East Bengal Club scored their sixth consecutive win sweeping aside Chennai City FC 3-0 in the seventh round Hero I-League tie at the floodlit Barasat Stadium on Sunday (February 5, 2017).
Wedson Anselme (50′), Willis Plaza (75′) and Lalrindika Ralte (90’+4′) struck in the second half to take the Red and Golds brigade to 19 points from seven matches, three ahead of arch-rivals Mohun Bagan who are on 16 points having played a game less. The two Kolkata heavyweights lock horns on February 12 at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri in what will certainly be a cracker.
Chennai City FC, on their part, remained rock-bottom of the table, losing the second game on the trot.
For the hosts, Rowlin Borges came in place of suspended Mehtab Hossain. Chennai made four changes with Debabrata Roy, Dhanapal Ganesh, Denson Devadas and Dharmaraj Ravanan all coming in. Joseph Clemente, Haroon Amiri, Darren Caldeira and Fanai Liandala made way for the four.
The first chance fell to Nikhil Poojary in the seventh minute when the U-22 player was picked up by Wedson on the run. But Poojary blazed over his effort with the top right corner all to himself.
It was not all East Bengal in the opening stages as expected. The visitors pegged their mighty opponents down with a flurry of forays with Brazilian Charles D’Souza side-netting and warming keeper TP Rehenesh’s gloves on two occasions respectively.
In between Charles’ adventures, the home side saw Robin Singh head over a glorious chance after some good work by Wedson, Poojary and Rahul Bheke.
Willis Plaza also had a chance to draw first blood off a Narayan Das cross whipped in from the left but the in-form Trinidad & Tobago international could not pack enough power behind his header.
The Chennai backline impressed with Nigerian Echezona Anyichie on top of his game.
At halftime, it was goalless. Trevor Morgan brought in Robin Gurung in place of ineffective Bheke after the break.
Five minutes into the second period, East Bengal finally broke the resolute Chennai rearguard. Ralte lobbed for Wedson who nutmegged Yumnam Raju to place the ball into the far corner.
It was Wedson who was in the thick of things again in the 74th minute with a delicate pass which uncorked the rival defence. Plaza was on the end of it, putting finishing touches with ease.
In second-half added time, it was more misery for Chennai when Echezona hacked down substitute Thongkosiem Haokip to hand East Bengal a penalty. Keeper Abhra Mondal guessed right but Ralte’s spot kick had enough bite to beat him.
(Report & Photo courtesy: I-League Media)